Feb 4, 2014

Mini Metal Maker DIY metal clay 3d printer

Mini Metal Maker is small DIY 3d printer that prints objects suitable for jewelry production, watchmaking and small gears modeling,  small pistons and generally small metal parts. It uses precious metal clay that needs to be put in a high temperature kiln in order to get into metallic form. it will not make "regular" sized hard metal parts. It is more oriented towards craftsman and artisans.

From the Mini Metal Maker page:
The impact

The Mini Metal Maker is a game-changer in the world of do-it-yourself 3-D printing. It gives engineers and designers a new tool for fabricating precision parts without expensive machinery or difficult manual processes. It puts a powerful new tool in the hands of artists and craftsmen for creating customized repeatable items in metal. It is also a valuable and accessible educational tool because it is low cost and small enough to be portable.

I've always dreamed of being able to print miniature parts and detailed sculptures directly in metal. To me, the Mini Metal Maker moves 3D printing from the land of plastic toys into the real world of arts, science, and engineering. I have had so much fun creating and using the Mini Metal Maker, and believe that you will too. 

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What is the Mini Metal Maker for?

The Mini Metal Maker is for printing custom jewelry such as rings and gem settings, sculptures, specialized machine parts, ornamental hardware, metal chains, or even special hardware such as miniature turbines or pistons.

Who will use the Mini Metal Maker?
The Mini Metal Maker is for anyone interested in creating small detailed metal objects. This includes the 3D Maker community and as jewelry artisans. The Mini Metal Maker is also a valuable tool for design engineers and machinists, who require small runs of specialized hardware for creating prototypes. The Mini Metal Maker adds new capability for the DIY inventor or artist by making fabrication in metal easy and direct.

What's the print bed size?
The print bed currently allows for prints up to 2.3 inches x 2.3 inches x 2.3 inches (6 cm x 6 cm x 6 cm) in size. The movement resolution is up to 1600 steps/mm.

How does the clay become metal?
The device prints with a commercially available jewelry product known as "metal clay." This material is a pre-mixed emulsion of metal particles in a water soluble organic binder. When heated in a kiln (600˚C-900˚C) the binder burns away as the metal particles fuse together.

Where can I buy materials for the printer?

I have been purchasing various metal clay materials online from Amazon and also through e-bay. The Mini Metal Maker requires the clay to be precisely mixed to a special consistency. I will provide pre-mixed syringes of clay along with the parts and software for the MiniMetalMaker.

Can I use it with other clays, or just metal clay?
The mini metal maker will work for most water soluble clay or ceramic type materials if the consistency of the material is properly mixed. Refining this mixing process for each of the available types of clay is an important part of the research and development we are currently completing. Since the device extrudes from commercially available syringes, it is entirely possible for users to develop their own clay blends. We will make pre-mixed clays of different varieties available for sale along with the Mini Metal Maker.

How big is the printer?

Our current printer measures 16 inches (41 cm) tall, 7 inches (18 cm) wide, and 12 inches (30 cm) deep. The new prototype will be slightly deeper in order to accommodate bed motion for two heads in place of just one.

Will it work with Windows 8? How about Macintosh?
Yes, and Yes. The core computer for the Mini Metal Maker is an Arduino Duo running modified Sprinter-based open source firmware. We are developing a cross-platform work environment for loading your objects into the printer.

Do you always need a computer to print?
No. It will be able to print directly from SD cards. Our current prototype requires a connection to a computer, but we are designing the production model to print directly from a compact flash chip that is inserted into the machine.

Does it work with a USB port?

Yes it does. It just has a standard printer-type USB cord that you could pull out of the back of your normal printer and connect to this printer.

Does it cause indoor air pollution or health problems for users?
No. The Mini Metal Maker does not cause any fumes or air pollution. The clay is water based and non-toxic, as its original purpose was for sculpting by hand. Also, the entire machine operates at room temperature because it does not have to melt plastic. You will need to purchase a small *kiln, however, in order to fire the objects.

*Kilns of any sort should be located in a well ventilated area away, often in a garage or a covered outdoor work area.
Mini Metal Maker homepage, detailed build files should be available there in the future:

They had very successful Indiegogo campaign, hopefully they will release the plans as planed:

Take a look at Newton 3d, printer based on same technology:


In 2015 this printer has a finalized design and is ready to go to full production: