Could an entire Fusor be 3D printed?

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Could an entire Fusor be 3D printed?

Post by bpaddock » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:02 pm

Making parts, such as the grid, with 3D printers has come up a few times, however none recently, in the past such as:

"New idea for making a grid"
download_thread.php?site=fusor&bn;=fuso ... 1274053797

"3D ceramic printing."

"Grids made from 3D rapid prototype machines"
download_thread.php?site=fusor&bn;=fuso ... 1085437460

The technologies, methodologies and most importantly the ability to print larger sized devices (a couple of feet in size and growing) has improved since some of those threads were written years ago.

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute ( NAMII ), , nearby me in Youngstown OH, is looking for projects .

I'm sure they did not have Fusor projects in mind, so I'd not get terribly excited just yet, tho they did say they wanted "outside of the box thinking" for the ideas.

Some of the machines at NAMII can hold up to 36 different materials from powered ceramic to powered metals, and different binding agents.

So my question is what is the feasibility of 3D printing an entire Fusor?

Is there anything in the physics that just makes this flat out impossible regardless of the advances in 3D printing?

3D printing, in the way Additive Manufacturing works is by building up layer upon layer of, possibly different, materials.

So hypothetically a containment vessel, grid supports, the grid itself, conductors, and the various ingress/egress ports can all be built in one go, as the device is built up (literally they do get built from the bottom to the top growing upward).

Assuming that a Fusor could be 3D printed, are there any grids or other aspects of a Fusor that are impossible to create with the current mythologies, such as strange shapes/sizes, that could be only 3D printed?

Indirectly related I found Doug Coulter discussion of modern vacuum tubes of interest:

download_thread.php?site=fusor&bn;=fuso ... 1274188743

When I was at NAMII we discussed how they want to be able to 'print' a working cell phone in the next couple of years. I think they might be a bit optimistic on that time frame. However it should possible to 'print' working electronic devices using micro-tubes today. Any instrumentation that could be built up into the Fusor using micro-vacuum tubes as it is being 'printed' that must be on the outside today?

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Could an entire Fusor be 3D printed?

Post by Chris Bradley » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:19 pm

Bob Paddock wrote:
> Is there anything in the physics that just makes this flat out impossible regardless of the advances in 3D printing?
Should be fine. Some complex aerospace parts, that take moderate stress, are now made by 3D printing because it is cheaper and quicker to make certain very low volume but complex parts in this way. It may be surprising to learn that some laser-sintered parts can actually be made stronger than the best equivalent machined cast parts, partly because fine internal strengthening structures can be added that it is not possible to make by conventional means.

(I have even heard talk of taking 3D metal printing into automotive mass production, for some of the smaller very complex engine parts that are difficult to fabricate accurately by other means.)

Porosity would be a concern, but as far as I am aware laser sintered parts can be made to readily form a solid or closed cell structure. Obviously, a vacuum envelope would rather depend on that outcome.

Some additional effort would, obviously, be required to finish off the mating surfaces to a high enough standard.

However, if you then ask if there is anything in the cost of doing so that renders it non-viable then you may arrive at a different answer!! Vacuum parts are made in sufficiently high volumes, and that they are simple designs, that there is unlikely to be a financial case to do so. I would have thought the convenience of being able to start off with a solid cast material that guarantees vacuum tightness will always give 'conventionally made' vacuum parts the advantage.

Much of the latest advances in 3D metal printing are happening behind closed door because getting it right for some sectors (esp aerospace) the competitive advantages that it gives are simply enormous.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Could an entire Fusor be 3D printed?

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:01 pm

Chris has given a nice exposition on the matter.

Obviously the answer to the original posts title is....yes. Given huge sums of the money, far beyond the average fusioneer's purse, an entire fusor could possibly be made up.

I think it more likely that simple inner grid manufacture using a refractory, conductive material would come first.

I have every confidence, however, that no one here will do it, of course. Thinking and the positing is always easier than the doing.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Re: Could an entire Fusor be 3D printed?

Post by aka47 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:53 pm

The simple answer is, no, an entire fusor could not be 3D printed.

However some component parts could be directly printed, you need to be pretty selective, aware of the limitations and for some of the more challenging componets that are printable commercial producers may need to be invoked. I think Shapeways has already been mentioned.

Some components can be aditionaly made via a two stage process. This is only realy open to folk who have a printer, skill and either their own home foundry or access to a small scale foundry (High School Metal Working Facilities)

It involves printing objects in a plastic that is'nt too bad to burn off (Polylactic Acid PLA) and creating them for investment casting purposes.

I guess many of us know what investment casting is, but for those who don't.

Investment casting (Lost Wax Casting) is where you create an object you want eventualy in metal, but in something that will burn out easily. Add sprues and Runners to it then cover it in a refactory mix. When the refactory mix sets and you have reinforced it you burn out the model you made in a kiln. After which you use the now empty mould to cast a part using molten metal of your choosing.

I have been involved with (Contributing to) the Reprap 3D printing project for a number of years now and have built my own 3D printer. As well as running a local Hardware Hacking Group (Mostly building 3D printers, but also Arduino & Raspberry Pi) I help friends who are silversmiths get set up, and maintin their own printers, pretty much used for the above. As well as looking after a couple in the local universitys physics department.

Direct printing in plastic realy does have limited use in fusoring, I think Prometheus Fusion Perfection found this one out the hands on way. However he has moved on to using commercial printers to turn out parts for his pollywell work.

I was originaly following his work for a while before I discovered

Currently I am printing out crystal mounts for a couple of scintilation probes I am building. One of the probes eventual intended purposes is instrumenting fusoring.

If I can help with anyone interested in 3D printing please feel free to drop me an email.


Andy Kirby

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