metal epoxy 3d printer mags/ lowers


February 19, 2013, 09:21 PM
so I went to my local auto parts store and they have a display with metal epoxy stuff that sets in 5 minutes and is fully cured in an hour... they have a penny and a washer set in this stuff to show how strong of a bond it makes... and neither would budge for anything... this stuff is strong to say the least... anyways would it be logical to make lowers or mags with 3d printer with this stuff? thoughts? I would love to be able to "roll my own" lowers and mags with this type of stuff... thanks, Johnny

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February 19, 2013, 09:28 PM
That is not how 3d printers work. Unless you are talking about using a 3d printer to make a plastic mold, and than try and use the meal epoxy to fill the mold. Either way it is not going to be feasible.

February 19, 2013, 09:39 PM
why wouldn't it work to fill a mold? this stuff seems indestructible.. thanks, Johnny

February 19, 2013, 10:09 PM
To fill a mold? yep all the time. Aluminum doped epoxy is used ALLLL the time for making vacuum formed plastic parts. Basically a CNC machine creates a mold from a CAD file, then the epoxy is poured. Also, a blank can be poured and then milled from there. Vacuum formable sheets of ABS, polyurethane, polypropelene, TPO, PVC and other plastics are heated to a specific temperature then placed over the aluminum doped epoxy tool and vacuum is applied to suck the soft plastic down onto the tool. It is then released and a part is made

3d printers don't really work that way. 3d printers bond powdered polymer layer by layer to form a solid 3d object. Epoxies can't be used that way. Unless you had a 3d printer that mixed the epoxy right before "drawing" a layer then instantly curing it with a UV laser or something, but the end product would look very rough due to how liquid most epoxies are when they are first mixed. There are giant prototype 3d printers that use concrete... which is a similar process to epoxy, it's a chemical reaction to create a rigid structure... from the tests that I've seen the end result merely looks okay.

Old rapid prototypers (3d printers) used a bath of liquid polymer and a laser would draw each layer on the surface of the bath, as the level incrementally increased, but intense external heat from the laser was required to harden the polymer. Epoxies use a chemical reaction cure the mix.

February 19, 2013, 10:16 PM
ehhh....epoxy resins of this type have very different properties from the polymers used in firearms manufacturing. They're not really an appropriate material. In my experience, they're either too pliable or become too brittle for this application.

Always good to be considering the possibilities, but I'm afraid this one is a no-go.

February 19, 2013, 10:25 PM
Yeah, MachIVShooter has it right. From a structural standpoint, the metal doesn't really add much strength. It adds heat transferring properties (why it's used in vacform tooling so the tooling doesn't warp as easily after having 1000s of parts made on it in quick succession. The tensile and compression strength is basically down to the plastic since the metal itself is in a powdered form suspended in the epoxy.

February 19, 2013, 10:40 PM
What you are looking for is probably SLA (stereolithography) printing, which hardens a resin using ultra-violet light instead of a mixture of reactive resin/hardener. Because light can be controlled so much better than a viscous fluid, laser-hardened SLA machines can make finishes on par with injection molding, and are nearly as strong as many injection molded plastics.

They do have binary FDM plastic squirters, but they are typically used to do multiple colors and aren't set up to mix with one another. As with all automatic epoxy-mixing machines, it would be certain to be a mess come cleanup time :p


February 19, 2013, 11:50 PM
When epoxy breaks... it shatters. Like glass.
Its pretty bad.

February 20, 2013, 08:39 AM
They have these other machines you can use instead of 3D printers...they're called lathes and mills. You can even get ones that you hook up to your computer and do the work for you!

3D printing/stereolithography/etc are great for some things (I can see magazines and other "non structural" components) but if you want to build your own firearms there are plenty of better tools to invest in...and plenty of good internet resources you can look into for how to do so. Basic tooling to build an AK variant will run you 2-300 bucks. If you've got more to spend you can skip the parts kits and barrels and just build your own ___ from raw materials.

February 20, 2013, 10:53 AM
If you've got more to spend you can skip the parts kits and barrels and just build your own ___ from raw materials.

I have mills and lathes, but barrels are tough. I've made smoothbore barrels for muzzle loading guns I've built completely from scratch, but the barrels in cartridge firing handguns must be rifled by law (unless NFA registered as SBS).

Used barrels or "in the white" barrels are pretty inexpensive, definitely the way to go for most of us.

February 20, 2013, 11:10 AM
You could try this,
I has been around forever, and most parts could probablly be made easily once you made molds.

February 21, 2013, 10:33 PM
Metal casting has difficulty achieving the level of detail possible with rapid prototyping. MIM was a step forward in this regard, yielding strong (enough) parts with a surface/shape suitable for use without additional work. I always use this gif off Formlabs' website to demonstrate the capabilities of SLA prototyping where mechanisms are concerned:
The whole thing was made as a unit (the only way it could be made)

That said, rapid prototyping using a polymer that can burn off cleanly in a mould will make casting massively easier and more practical for average joes, and can create forms with internal features that could be not made otherwise.

What we need is a benchtop MIM solution--then we'd be in business as far as mags/lowers :evil:


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