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Parts And Jigs “Printed” By 3D Machine
Print that part or jig you need with a 3D printer from LulzBot Products. Machines start as low as $1,085, topping off at $5,495 for standard 3D printing. The company not only sells the printers, filament supplies and accessories, but it also makes its own 3D printers, using its own 3D printers.
“We have more than 300 of our 3D printers running 24/7 building parts for more printers,” says Todd Atchison, LulzBot Products. “When other companies were having supply issues getting 3D printers from China, we were making ours and updating on the fly. No more bins of unneeded parts.”
Printing parts is one thing, but Atchison reports that farmers visiting the company’s trade booth at farm shows get excited about even simpler printed pieces.
“Once I explain the capability of the printers, they see lots of different uses,” he says. “Welding jigs like a cradle so a piece of conduit doesn’t roll around as they are working on it or jigs for making right angle pieces are just the start. Open the door to how it works, and the imagination and printer capabilities are the only limits to what can be done.”
The Fargo, N. Dak., based company is the largest 3D printer manufacturer in the country. Unlike most companies, it’s part of the open-source movement. Go to their website and find product information available for download that most companies keep locked away as intellectual property (IP).
“A lot of companies refuse to share the IP that would allow you to print a replacement part,” says Atchison. “You can only get your parts from a certified supplier, and you may have to wait weeks to get it.”
He explains that if you can get a 3D file, a CAD file or a 3D scan, you could make a needed part or at least a master mold for a casting.
“We’re seeing a lot of 3D printers being used for casting parts that are no longer manufactured,” says Atchison. “It’s still a pretty specialized skill set, but it’s being done.”
He notes that creating a file for 3D printing could get into questions of IP ownership and violation of trademarks or patents. That wouldn’t be the case with generic parts or older parts that are off-patent.
Types of filaments for use in a 3D printer are growing at an immense rate, suggests Atchison. “There’s a lot of demand for stronger, more industrial types of materials,” he says. “If a filament fits within our temperature range, you can try it in our printers.”
One of the primary plastics now being used is PLA from corn. However, other bioplastics are being developed, and the company offers hundreds of alternatives in filament type, color, diameter and spool weight.
“3D printed parts are capable of a long life, depending on the materials used, such as metal or carbon fiber,” says Atchison. “We have customers that have replaced a broken gear with one printed from nylon or plastic, and it holds up well. 3D printing can be just as durable as injection molding.”
For those readers interested in 3D printing, a visit to the company’s website may be time well spent. It offers free lessons in 3D printing designed for school classrooms, tutorials for individuals, and a user forum. It also offers open-source software for free modeling, scanning and controller software and much more related to open-source software.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, LulzBot Products, 1001 25th St. N.,  Fargo, N. Dak. 58102 (ph 701-809-0800; info@lulzbot.com; www.lulzbot.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2