Inlays - Merging Technologies

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TReischl
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Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by TReischl »

Inlay.jpg
That is an ABS plastic inlay in hard maple. The inlay is actually black, the photo does not show it well.

This all started when I bought a 3D printer about a week ago. It is a Creality Ender 3 that sells for about $225. After making a couple things I needed in the shop my efforts were diverted by my wife when she hinted she would like a more "artistic" cell phone stand. I printed two scrolls like the one above and a platform with a cross hatch (think trellis) and glued them together. Wound up having to make her two more. Anyway, as I was staring at the printer I had one of those "epiphany" moments. INLAY!!! Ebony is not cheap nor is it easy to work with.

The pocket is 1.5mm deep (.059 for the metrically challenged) and the inlay is 1.75mm thick. I got real lucky, I used the same vectors for the printing as I did for the pocketing and they fit together perfectly. A little CA glue and then I ran it through the drum sander. The drum sander is fast so it "smeared" the ABS a bit, but not bad. A few swipes with a pad sander and it was good to go. I put a couple of coats of shellac on it. And yes, I did not fiddle with it much so you can see a ridge in the finish. This was just a test anyhow.

A few days ago an illustrious member of this forum well known by all and I conversed about this idea. He asked "why plastic?". Right off the bat, colors, lots of colors. You name it, they have it. Even copper, gold, silver. Neon colors. Pantone colors. Second, the plastic is easy to handle, especially when an inlay has areas like that one which are only 2mm (.079) wide and are prone to breakage while handling. The plastic has no grain and is tough. Third, it is really cheap. Typically a spool sells for about $22 and is a bit over 300 meters long. The inlay in the pic is about 125mm long. It uses 1.75meters of filament. Doing all the math. . . .about 12 cents worth of plastic. BTW, colors like gold are not more expensive.

Does this replace using wood veneer techniques? No. Does it replace using the V Carve method of inlay? Nope. It is just another tool in the bag.

For a long time I pretty much scoffed at 3D printing because mostly what I saw were figurines from games and such and those just do not interest me. Then I watched a video in which a person made all sorts of handy things for his shop and they actually looked good. So I got to investigating. Now I have a small machine that can make useful things for around shop/house and can do inlays. A thought rattling around in my head is medallions. I did one the other day but it was too small so it lost too much detail. I am going to give it another go either today or tomorrow to see what I can do.
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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by AcBCDN »

Interesting, I have had a 3D printer for a while and have considered this. One of my real issues has been getting as smooth as possible surface for an inlay. So, recently, I just replaced the textured bed with a smooth PEI (Polyetherimide ) sheet. This will allow for a really smooth first layer. In doing that I am mirroring the inlay when I 3D print.

Another idea would be playing around with different infill patterns with no top layers so you expose a textured infill as an inlay. Which may result in a thicker 3d printed part.

In all honesty though I had set 3D printed inlays aside. Now, you got me thinking about them again. So, thanks for that. :D

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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by highpockets »

Great experiment. It came out really nice.

Thanks for sharing....
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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by gkas »

Verrrryyyyy Interesting....... I like that the sander smeared the plastic layer.

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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by gkas »

Don't want to hijack the thread, but here's a link to some of the 3D shop stuff I've either made or collected from free sites. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1hWSAC ... 0OolNuf89w

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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by TReischl »

gkas wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:51 pm
Don't want to hijack the thread,

Yes, you do!

but here's a link to some of the 3D shop stuff I've either made or collected from free sites. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1hWSAC ... 0OolNuf89w
But I like hijacked threads, you learn more interesting things that way.

Yea, that drum sander really flies and plastic being plastic it tends to smear. Not a biggie though, but I would not plan on using it for a final finish sand.

Next thing I am curious about is inlaying through an existing inlay. That could be tricky given that plastic melts. Will probably give it a shot tomorrow.
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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by mtylerfl »

I like this inlay experiment, Ted! I’m looking forward to watching your future experiment progress!
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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by ZipperHead55 »

I have been sitting on the fence over buying a 3D printer, but I think this might have pushed me over to the "purchase the damn thing already!" side. As the OP said, I have no interest in making Man Barbies, but between the ability to make thingamajigs for the shop (and actual jigs) and doing inlay (I've done wood and epoxy, with varying degrees of success), I think that I may have to investigate further.

It's been about 6 months (a lifetime in technology) since I last looked at what's out there (I even saw a Dremel 3D printer at a local woodworkers shop, so you know they're becoming more and more mainstream), and I'll make sure I focus on one that does what I need (making small parts and inlays) and not one that is more suited (and likely more expensive) for the other applications.

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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by ozymax »

Being that you're working with ABS, have a look into "smoothing ABS with acetone vapor".
Acetone mixed with chips of the parent plastic, ie yellow, blue, red etc, makes a nice glue that's the same colour as the parent plastic.
You can also smooth/glue the ABS by brushing with an artists paint brush.

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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by scottp55 »

What a GREAT result on first experiment Ted!!
But like "AHA" moments the best!
I think you may be onto something here!! :D
Congrats!!
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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by TReischl »

ozymax wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:01 am
Being that you're working with ABS, have a look into "smoothing ABS with acetone vapor".
Acetone mixed with chips of the parent plastic, ie yellow, blue, red etc, makes a nice glue that's the same colour as the parent plastic.
You can also smooth/glue the ABS by brushing with an artists paint brush.
Now there is a nugget Ozy, thanks for that tip! I had seen something about smoothing in chamber with an acetone fog, but that is way, WAY beyond what I want to get into. I had not thought about using a brush. Got any hints about smoothing out PLA? Most of the stuff for the shop I would rather do in PLA since it does print a bit easier. I suppose I could Google it. . . .
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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by ozymax »

TReischl wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:56 pm
ozymax wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:01 am
Being that you're working with ABS, have a look into "smoothing ABS with acetone vapor".
Acetone mixed with chips of the parent plastic, ie yellow, blue, red etc, makes a nice glue that's the same colour as the parent plastic.
You can also smooth/glue the ABS by brushing with an artists paint brush.
Now there is a nugget Ozy, thanks for that tip! I had seen something about smoothing in chamber with an acetone fog, but that is way, WAY beyond what I want to get into. I had not thought about using a brush. Got any hints about smoothing out PLA? Most of the stuff for the shop I would rather do in PLA since it does print a bit easier. I suppose I could Google it. . . .
I haven't done any work with PLA, but I don't think it's as easy as ABS.
Google will be your friend....

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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by TReischl »

ozymax wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:08 pm

I haven't done any work with PLA, but I don't think it's as easy as ABS.
Google will be your friend....
Having just started I am far from an expert but everything I have seen says that ABS is more difficult. I tend to agree because I experienced the exact issues the "tech gurus" talked about. The big one is that the ABS wants to shrink pretty quickly and pop the piece free of the bed. I made scrolls like above from PLA and ABS, the first ABS ones popped free so I had to put a brim around the base to get better adhesion. Some of the gurus claim that the printer needs to be enclosed because of that issue. To keep breezes from cooling the piece too rapidly while printing. In general I like the ABS better because it stands up better over time.
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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by gkas »

You can use a heat gun to smooth PLA, but be real careful. I tad too much, and the print droops. Useful for removing strings, though. Check out Glass transition temperatures: not what they seem https://forum.prusaprinters.org/forum/o ... they-seem/

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Re: Inlays - Merging Technologies

Post by GeneMpls »

I consider my Prusa Mk3s a valuable essential tool and design in other software and print items for myself every day. I am sheltering at home for the duration and brought it home with me. I took it to the Keys last month also. I print almost exclusively PETG with great success.

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