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Posted by sanman 
January 27, 2013 11:37PM

I recently came across your cool idea for a DIY homemade EBM printer, and I'd like to ask how long the project has been going on.

Have you people considered trying to do a Kickstarter on this to get the money to make it happen? If your project succeeds, it would be a great symbolic breakthrough that would certainly make 3D printing vastly more popular.

I've never bought a 3D printer myself, because I don't find plastic to be very appealing. But a machine that could print in metal would be awesome. I'd imagine people could even make their own car parts with it.
Re: Kickstarter?
February 07, 2013 03:51AM
I think it should be up there for sure, we could offer parts that are printed..

e.g. bottle opener, business card, logo, xmas decorations, spheres...

Then onto a electronics kit that includes all the electronics for the project.

Then a hardware one, one being unprintable items the other being printed parts

SW kit will most likely be free download, might be able to pre install it on a laptop.

Then the big one being the a full complete machines inc laptop so its ready to run out the box.

Additional things such as business hours phone support for a year...

We just need some high gloss marketing material to give everything the feel of a high tech space age technology ...

A target of 200k usd wouldn't be un reasonable ? 1-2 years of development?

Your guys thoughts?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 07, 2013 04:41AM
... sounds feasible, but I think with EBM and vacuum you'll need more money and maybe more time too confused smiley

You'll get much faster results with laser and inert gas ...

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Re: Kickstarter?
February 07, 2013 06:16AM
Perhaps the spec on this first kickstarter model will be more on parr with a rep rap quality finish with the usual issues of warp age and de-lamination. and there will be no corrective feature.

major projects end up being,

vacuum chamber
powder dispenser
electron gun and digital control from cad

Layout a upgrade path so further kickstarter projects can fund the rest of the features
Assemble Your Team! Go for It!
February 09, 2013 11:53PM
Well, if you browse the Kickstarter website and look at their most well-funded projects, you'll see that a disproportionate number of them are 3D printer projects. So obviously 3D printers are a big hit with the Kickstarter crowd. If you want your Kickstarter project to attract the most funding sponsorship, then make it a 3D printer project.


It seems to me that a project for 3D printer that prints in metal at very high precision would really attract a huge amount of interest. The internet community will go bananas over this. I don't think you'll suffer a shortage of funding or sponsors. It would be a matter of assembling the right team with the necessary expertise to deliver.

But one key thing to recognize here is that Electron Beam Melting has some patent holders like Arcam, and you'd have to avoid infringing on their commercial interests.

Remember, even FormLabs got sued over possible patent infringements.


NASA also uses EBM too, and calls it Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, but I suppose NASA isn't a commercial entity and so I'm not sure if their use of the technology amounts to patent infringement. Perhaps a Kickstarter-funded project could have the goal of creating a verified and proven open source design for an EBM printer, and those who make sufficient monetary contributions to the project would get their own copy of the design plans - or dare I say possibly even a kit for them to assemble themselves? I don't know what's feasible in relation to intellectual property issues.

Yeah, I too was thinking that laser was probably easier to do than EBM, even though the latter is much more elegant. Perhaps laser SLM would be good initially, while you work out the challenges of EBM on the side to pursue later.

Either way, you should get a good team together first, to mount a credible Kickstarter effort.

3D printing in metal is really worth doing, and it's something that people will really get behind. Imagine people printing their own parts in space-age metals like titanium! When that happens, the response will go through the roof, and we'll really know that 3D printing has arrived.

PS: I don't think your target should be $200K - it should be $1-2M. Go big or go home!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2013 12:50AM by sanman.
Re: Assemble Your Team! Go for It!
February 10, 2013 04:46AM
I agree with your 1-2 mil estimate when you start employing people. 4 engineers for 2 years + rest for expenses.

With full time engineers a lot could be accomplished. Even more so if expertise is contracted in for critical parts.

The trouble with this project at the moment is there could be alot of road blocks that could prevent the on time completion for a kickstarter style project. There needs to be an example prototype that is knocked together as crudely as possible to prove that technically it can be done with out having any "roadblocks"

Patent issues will become intense in this area. And at 50k for a simple patent there could be a single kick starter project just for a patent! Fingers crossed that the fact NASA has done it that there could be some freedom to operate given to the open source community?

The kickstarter funding will then be used to tidy up/ add features and commercialize the prototype for the open source community and get the supply channels to build 10 to 20 units. The beauty with this model is that ALOT of parts can be replicated in house. The kick side of getting funding like this could be a business entity that makes profit to continue the development of the project without having to rely on kickstarter funding that will eventually stop.

What fulltime roles would be in the team? Boss, Mech, Elec, Software
Who wants in on the team? Where is the best place to be based?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 10, 2013 05:29AM
Another approach worth considering is this one suggested by engineers at SpaceX:



Align yourself with a professor and attach yourself whatever he or she is working on.

You could try for a worldwide collaborative effort involving people from different colleges. It might be possible to benefit from research grants. This type of approach has succeeded in the realm of open source software, and I think it could also succeed here for 3D printing. This might be a way to get to your prototype, which could later be upgraded into a Kickstarter type of effort. Even that Deltamaker project on Kickstarter is based on the preceding Rostock design.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2013 05:31AM by sanman.
Re: Assemble Your Team! Go for It!
February 12, 2013 10:08AM
>So obviously 3D printers are a big hit with the Kickstarter crowd
I worry that the crowd will burnout on 3D printers... But then few printers promise to be able to print in titanium, let alone steel. But I also want to ask, and may go figure out for myself: how many printers successfully fund?

Anyhow, there's some other angles here:
- A successful kickstarter does not necessarily promise anything. I would hope that if you raise 1.2M, you'll deliver, but you could just go to aruba, and no-one has legal recourse.
- Something like an EBM-reprap does not need to be funded in one go. There could be, say, 3 separate kickstarters:
i) Vacuum chamber & pump design
ii) electron gun and targeting design
iii) power supply and control design.

Trying to raise a small amount for each stage seems more realistic than trying to raise over a million in one go. Successfully raising cash, then delivering on promises is also a good way to develop a good reputation which may make it easier to raise more cash for the harder problems later on.
Re: Assemble Your Team! Go for It!
February 13, 2013 01:51AM
Multiple kickstarts makes sense, it turns it into a lego set. Once you get the first piece your hooked and want the rest.

We could also out source designing to china/ other development houses to get expertise and quick results if we get a lump some. Anybody dealt with places like that in this area?

I believe there's a site you can post your requirements and different people bid on it? Maybe we could use this to get realistic prices for the targets on kickstarter?

So what are we waiting for. Lets make a kickstarter page. Start small .... Lets make a open source roughing vacuum pump that can go to 10-3 torr ? Since we would need a working machine to print the parts, this one will be machined parts which I can probably help out with. Just need a electric motor? If I get interest I can draw one up in Solidworks and get a sample made. Kickstarter funding will be to improve on it and make 10 more. Ive got a trivac here that I can copy. I'm pretty sure the patents on these will be long since expired.
Re: Kickstarter?
February 14, 2013 12:33AM
Alternatively, have you guys thought of going for a lower-end technology, to allow some kind of rudimentary printing of metal parts?

How about FDM of metal wire with some kind of nitrogen atmosphere in the build chamber instead of vacuum? That's a simpler modification of existing designs that already work.
Do a Kickstarter for that first.

Then later you could try FDM of metal wire inside a vacuum chamber. That's the next step of modification. Do a Kickstarter for that.

Then finally you take that existing setup and replace the FDM with Electron Beam. Do a Kickstarter for that.

At each stage, you can give people a fully working product that they can be happy with. But each stage sets you up to go on to the next stage, to eventually reach the final ultimate goal.

Maybe you could even do it in a modular way, so that people can retrofit their existing product with the new improvements from the next one. Is that feasible?

What do you think?

It's just that I think that people are less likely to fund a Kickstarter project that won't give them a fully working product. Having a vacuum chamber on its own won't let you build stuff. But having a printer based on an intermediary stage of technology will still allow you to build stuff, even while you're waiting for things to advance to the next stage of improvement.
Re: Kickstarter?
February 16, 2013 05:41PM
I agree with people not funding something that's not complete/ working... I do think that singular pieces that work on there own have merit.

I'm not so sure about the FDM making it easier on a upgrade path. It probably has another set of completely different technical issues to deal with.

How about we flesh some of the different states of the project out with standalone uses. This can then be used to try provide a upgrade path for the first projects.

After each project is complete lets just assume the previous ones are available from a online store so can easily be bundled.

1.Roughing vacuum pump - can be used in vacuum form molding etc.....

2.Vacuum chamber + rough pump - can be used to see what happens when you pull vacuum on everything.

3.HV power supply - Can be used to made jacobs ladders, xray tubes

4.High Vac Pump + mounts + vac chamber + rough pump - Can be used to study higher vacuum on everything

5.E-beam + above - Can be used to sputter, evaporator, polisher?

6.Z axis bed & wire feeder & control software - First open source metal printer?

7.SEM digital vision + above - The first open source SEM machine? The most accurate open source metal printer?

8.Software upgrade. Better parts with Thermal modeling and correction.

9.Software upgrade. 3d SEM images with better finished part resolution.

10.Complete bundle of above with bug fixes found in previous versions of mech,hardware,software. <<COMPLETE UINT's

PS. Just to let you know where my experimental setup is. I have a roughing pump, high vac pump, chamber (smaller build area), low power E-beam, SEM vision sensors, Currently untested HV power supplies and E-beam. manual XYZ stage with feed troughs. I just need control software, and E-beam and SEM hardware and software control. And of course the powder/wire dispenser mechanism. So these kick start projects can be swapped in and tested pretty easy along the way. The kick start projects are pretty much to get the minimum orders up while I make the first one and draw up the design.
Re: Kickstarter?
February 16, 2013 09:53PM
Well, then like you said - for the Kickstarter why not offer metal parts fabricated by you once your have your EBM machine fully up and running?
Maybe you could offer sculptures with different kinds of interesting intricate geometries which could not ordinarily be manufactured through classical methods.

Btw, what would you estimate to be the total cost of the equipment you currently have? And what would be the final equipment cost for a fully working device?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 01:29AM
That's true. Once its complete. small medium and complex pre defined parts. And could also offer a custom service.

I'm along way of that though. the E-beam , hopper and computer software is going to take my weekends for a few years on my own, and that's after I get my basic setup running!

I'm hoping that a kick-starter will be guys who want to contribute as well. Thus meaning that there's 10 or so people out there with rigs. The more out there the faster the development. Once I start getting finished parts there's not really as much of a need for kick starter projects for individual components, it will be complete fully functional machines. It will be printing machines for other people and starting the replication.

Currently I've prob spent 2k USD on my rig, most of that is shipping to NZ!. I got a decent deal from a surplus trader in the states on an old SEM machine without monitor, came with some junk and even a helium leak tester!

This sites build sheet reckons around 12k EUR for a complete machine. Once we start printing precision parts in stainless steel I imagine this will shrink a lot. The development cycle will be change and print! So even the improvements will start rolling out faster. The only expense at the moment will be getting the parts welded together. But I also imagine that will change with epoxy's . You could even use bluetack to seal a vacuum down to 10-10 tor! Imagine that, your entire chamber held together by some fancy interlocking parts and bluetack! The great feature of the vacuum is it pulls parts together and seals it'self. In the SEM I've got, they use standard looking o-rings everywhere. Makes it all go together like lego

Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 01:50AM
pyrotronics Wrote:
> That's true. Once its complete. small medium and
> complex pre defined parts. And could also offer a
> custom service.
> I'm along way of that though. the E-beam , hopper
> and computer software is going to take my weekends
> for a few years on my own, and that's after I get
> my basic setup running!

How long do you think it will take to get your basic setup running?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 01:56AM
If its just me ... prob 2 years.

I'm focusing mainly on the SEM vision system in the hopes that when I get that part finished the rest of the guys here have the hopper and high voltage power supply sorted. If that pans out I should get something going this year. Even if its melting a hole in a plate! anything that shows my e-beam has some power
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 04:47AM
... I've dropped e-beam for laser-fusing some years ago for the complexity of the vacuum and scanning/geometry problems.

Fusing metal powder or welding wire is much, much simpler with laser and inert gas than with e-beam and vacuum.

But it's the other way round if you have to run this in the ISS, where you have a perfect vacuum 'right around the corner' and the gas/degassing part is the cost-driving part grinning smiley

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 05:15AM
what do you mean by ISS?

Have you actually got a laser and inert gas setup?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 12:59PM
LOL, he's talking about the International Space Station - they're going to install an EBM machine to use up there.

I assume the machine will be installed inside the ISS, but I'd imagine they'll somehow make use of the vacuum outside in space to make the vacuum chamber work.

Yup, in that sense EBM truly is a "space age technology" - it's easier to get it working in space than here on Earth. spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

Tell me, are there any other kinds of beams that can work - like ion beam, or proton beam? I'm not even sure how to generate those without a cyclotron.
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 01:12PM
... I have different lasers upt to 50Watts CW or 400kW pulsing with different wavelengths (UV, visible, NIR,IR).

Actually the laser type cheapest/easiest to adopt for metal powder fusing would be IR-diodelasers - commercially available for around 300€ per 10 Watts, I have different types with 5W, 9W and 25W, but can combine more of them for higher energies ... was working an developing/building the adjusting stage for a ringfocus-laser, where 80 IR-diodes with 20Watts each were combined to a single spot with 1600Watts!

Inert gas is as simple as blowing a small amount of Argon or Nitrogen from a nozzle around the spot, so the hot area is shielded some seconds from abient air and won't oxidize ... no need flooding the complete building chamber winking smiley

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 01:43PM
I'm curious about the prevention of oxidation aspect -- couldn't you prevent oxidation even by using an electric current or potential? I'm just trying to think of other possible solutions that would address the problem. I'm sure you've heard of these anti-rust protection devices which use sacrificial metal electrodes to protect the metal structure of a car, or truck, or ship, or bridge, etc:


I'm not sure how this would work for a heated molten material, though.

What are your thoughts - are vacuum or inert gas the only ways?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 02:39PM

I came across a bunch of articles while googling:


What about trying laser-assisted electroplating as a form of stereolithography?

Think of the FormLabs Form1 printer, which does stereolithography using a UV-curable liquid polymer, while slowly pulling the formed object out of that layer from above. So imagine something similar, except instead of the thin liquid layer of polymer at the bottom, you instead have a thin liquid layer of ionic solution. Stereolithography would similarly be used to cause the electroplated material to form into an object, which would slowly be pulled out of the liquid layer from above.

Is this feasible?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 03:15PM
... I'm thinking about (and testing some aspects of) laserassisted plating and etching since some years now - it sounds feasible, but the chemistry involved is complex, so put this back for other, more urgent projects (like SLS, UV-printing or 3D-scanning).

There are some interesting methodes with 'immersed' activation from top or bottom with different base fluids and the 'active' medium solved/mixed in the base fluid or applied with a dispenser direct before use ...

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 03:31PM
Really? What kind of methods for immersed activation? Any particularly interesting base fluid materials or end results?

Like I said, why can't electrical potential be used to keep oxidation away in the laser or EBM methods, as opposed to inert gas or vacuum?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 17, 2013 05:09PM
... was testing with UV focussing through the fluid on the surface of a copper coated PCB for etching and IR-laser with focussing too for heating only the fluid near to the surface, so it starts phase changing.

Another option is using a fiber head sitting some ten microns above the surface, so the light only passes and activates this gap ... here you need special fiber materials or coatings, so the optics won't be affected by the reaction ...

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Kickstarter?
February 18, 2013 01:25AM
What power rating would you need on a fiber coupled laser to melt metals? and what optics do you need?

Back to the kickstart topic. Anyone done one before? anything to watch out for?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/18/2013 01:44AM by pyrotronics.
Re: Kickstarter?
February 18, 2013 02:35AM
pyrotronics Wrote:
> What power rating would you need on a fiber
> coupled laser to melt metals? and what optics do
> you need?

... depending on material, speed and focus size (energy density) i'm starting with 2 Watts, but can go up to 50 Watts with NIR (808, 975 or 1070nm) or 40 Watts with CO2-laser (10640nm)

For the NIR-lasers I'm using normal glass- or plastic lenses - either with IR-coating or 'naked' ... the CO2-laser needs focussing lenses made from ZnSe or Germanium ...

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Kickstarter?
February 18, 2013 02:38AM
So you have physically melted metal with a 2W laser?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 18, 2013 03:03AM
... no solid metal - it was 'dust' in form of 30 micron big microspheres of an eutectic gold-tin-alloy (80% gold, 20% tin) ... without inert gas ...

Black (perfect absorbing) microspheres of melted stone needs even less energy to melt, but here it's something tricky -- you can melt the dust, but when it fuses to a solid, then (because of heat-dissipation) you'll need much more power to remelt the surface again ...

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Kickstarter?
February 18, 2013 03:18AM
Ah yes well you could probably lit a match up and ignite a small cloud of dust of those particles.

So you cannot get a fused join with a particle like that and another solid object, like a coin for instance?

Using that process you could prob get them to stick together and not fuse in a part. might be 10-25% original strength ? This could be a first step for a kickstarter? this process could be used for the build supports in the full blown e-beam machine?
Re: Kickstarter?
February 18, 2013 04:21AM
... with the gold-tin-dust I've 'brazed' platinum wires to gold pads - see here, the image under "Usage - brazing/hard soldering"

Tried with other lasers too - with a pulsing NdYAG (max. 30Watts CW, max. 2kW pulsing energy) I've got with maybe 20% setting enough enrgy to evaporate all the material and melt the surface of the ceramic body too, so it changed from blue to white/pink!

With this one and another pulsing NdYAG (max. 3W CW, but much smaller spot, so higher energy density) I've fused metal wires to solid metal surfaces or cut+fused crossed metal wires for thermo-junctions.

... have to try with my 9Watt/25Watt-diodelasers and 50Watts-fiberlaser what's needed to fuse dust or wires from bronze, iron or copper on a metal surface ... but don't have Argon for shielding, so the result would be oxides and cinder confused smiley

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
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