Why Not 3D Parts For Classics?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by eric_m|4, Apr 28, 2021.

  1. Hello All,
    Old film cameras are pretty hot right now but the problem is there are serious issues with age related wear n tear. Sometimes it can be fixed but many times a camera is just not worth it or parts are just not available. But what about 3D printing? I'm not really up on 3D printing but I read/heard somewhere that 3D printers can use materials other than plastic such as aluminum and other metals. Does anyone know if this is correct or did I misunderstand something? If correct, is it too expensive? Any 3D printers out there know if something now or in near future can save our old classics? The up side would be all those old classics could be saved, the downside is prices would really start going up!
  2. It's possible to 3D print metal but the 3D printed materials' mechanical quality is typically inferior to that of other manufacturing methods (machining from solid blocks of metal). So it might not have the desired strength.
  3. and you need very exactly made 3d meshes.
  4. CNC machining would be a much better option. As mentioned above, 3D print materials are often not good enough. Nor is 3D printing pecision, without CNC machining to finish to spec (same with casting).
  5. As above, machining of metal parts (gears, spindles, etc) is a better option, doesn't have to be CNC though, nothing wrong with a manual lathe and a good machinist. People with the necessary skills and equipment have been doing this ever since the start of the industrial revolution (or before), you just need to find them and make it worth their while...

    3D printing is a good option for plastic parts, or anything that won't be subjected to high torsional stresses. As with CNC, you need the programming skills...

    (I'm a CNC machinist/programmer in my 'day job')
    Jochen and robert_bowring like this.
  6. The precision of 3D parts just isn't there yet, especially for small items. Truth be told, I've been disappointed with every 3D part I've ever dealt with. Printing metal is expensive, so manual or CNC machining is the way to go. (also a part time machinist in my day job)
    robert_bowring likes this.
  7. To add, 3D printing tolerances are pretty good, the 'advanced hobby' grade printer we have at work was able to turn out a lens mount adaptor that was good enough for real world use.
  8. And plentiful.
    It's often cheaper and easier to cannibalise another camera for spares than to make, or have made, new parts.

    Besides, the function of film cameras is very much interchangeable. A light-tight box with a shutter and mount for lens, or some combination of such. With film always being a limiting factor.

    The very word 'camera' just means a chamber.

    For example: I'd defy anyone to pick out from the pictures whether a Zorki or Leica had been used with a given lens.
    mag_miksch likes this.
  9. Like most things, it depends.

    3D printing will very likely work fine for things like plastic battery doors.

    You're out of the home printer league, I'm sure, when it comes to things like cogs, cams, and other stressed parts.

    Back when Triumphs and MGs were hot for my college buddies, most of the owners kept another one in the garage for spare parts.
    mag_miksch likes this.
  10. The biggest issue with 3D printing and, to a lesser extent with CNC machining, is, as alluded to above, being able to accurately measure the part to be reproduced (and communicate those measurements).

    If you can manage that, then someone, somewhere, can make a part to your specifications.

    If the operator/programmer is any good, they will know their machine and how best to approach the task.

    As I said above, we have a 3D printer at work, I can't remember the specs (it's not my department), but it's good enough to produce working gears, or a lens mount adaptor. But, as with anything, it's a case of using the right tools and materials for the job - try to reproduce a shutter cocking mechanism and you'll struggle, something lightly stressed, like a plastic takeup spool, will be fine.

    Anything that was manufactured, can be remanufactured, with access to the right equipment and materials. Virtually all camera prototypes (at least of the generation we're talking about) would have been turned out by a small number of people with a basic selection of machine tools - there's not much you can't do with a vertical mill and a lathe if you put your mind to it.

    Side note, please, don't start asking me for parts! I'll help with drawings and such if I can, but the CNC machines I have access to are large (the smallest is 3.5m x 1.2m) and not suitable for small parts. One of my personal projects involves machining a medium format sized camera body and finding a way to secure it to the machine is going to be quite a challenge!
  11. Darn!!! I was just about to ask you if you could print a brand new Hasselblad 500c/m for me.
    rodeo_joe|1 and mag_miksch like this.
  12. If you want a Hasselblad, I think that one on the moon is still there, free for the taking.
    mag_miksch likes this.
  13. Send me the necessary drawings and I could make one from wood, though the format may be a little different, how about 1m x 1m?

    Would probably cost more than the original too...
  14. You guys crack me up!!! Funny responses!
  15. No problem on the accuracy (+/-0.03mm fine for woodwork), it's clamping anything less than about 30cm square in place that it's simply not equipped for!

    That's a nice looking toy Conrad ;) I've been asking them to get a little machine for, ummm... 'teaching purposes'

    My 'small' machine is a modified SCM/Routech Record with a Hiteco Prisma 5-axis head, doesn't fit on a bench. (weighs about 7 tonnes)
  16. That's about 0.001" for us dinosaurs. Actually I work metric every day but my brain is still programmed for how big a thou is. As for clamping, we make a lot of things where mild vise pressure might crush the part. No CNC here but what I see a lot of people do is machine the part(s) on a solidly held piece of stock, only cutting them off at or near the last operation, then finishing that side. Mostly avoids putting the part in a vise and is more efficient for multiple parts at a time. AFAIK, most camera bodies are castings (out of wood? plastic wood?) and then spot machined only where they need it. Don't forget that a Speed Graphic is mostly leather covered wood, though my little Century Graphic is made of "Mahoganite", some sort of plastic. I'm curious what the (Folmer) Graflex Inc. plant looked like inside, as so many parts were quite small. Tiny Unisaws? The building isn't far from here, just the other side of Pittsford on Monroe Avenue, but of course everything was gone decades ago.
  17. Pretty much the only option - to make my camera body, I'm going to have to machine it out of the end of a ~1 metre piece (min clamping size on my machine), then cut it free.

    Coming back on topic and away from CNC geekery, a benchtop mill/lathe combo machine would suffice for making camera parts, you could kit out a garage workshop for, say, Leica money...
  18. Given how often battery doors get lost, cameras or not, it would be really nice to be able to get replacements.

    Of course, often enough, electrical tape works, but is a little ugly.

    I suppose some other camera parts could also be done, but usually for the important parts,
    it is probably not the best way.
  19. I'd think 3D printing would be perfect for stuff like battery doors. One of the guys at work has a Formlabs printer and it does well with things on that scale. There are lots of different resins available with different properties. Something nobody talks about is the amount of post processing on the parts, cleaning and such. They don't come off the machine "done."
    steve_gallimore|1 likes this.

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