One of my hobbies is amateur machining, and I though I could bring my desktop
CNC mill on board, it's really too noisy and messy. I'd also be quite limited in what I could make by whatever random metal stock and end mills I happen to have with me.
However, the small 3D printers keep getting better and better
. There are a handful of inexpensive ($500 to $1,000) ones that are quite small -- about 12" cubed, less than 20 pounds, and can build plastic objects up to about 6" to 8" cubed. They use rolls of ABS filament, which is a bit like weed wacker line and would be easy to keep on board.
It would be interesting to be able to make little custom parts
as needed -- clips for floorboards and cabinet doors, brackets, fairleads, a plug
for the hawse pipe on the windlass
, little waterproof junction boxes or drip shields, and etc.
Has anyone else gone down this path? I've been thinking it might be an interesting to try reinforcing the ABS objects with epoxy
and filler, or fiberglass
-- to either make channels in the object to pour or inject the epoxy
into, to reinforce the piece internally, or to use the 3D printer to make molds. Or to bring some dyneema
line that could be woven through the object, to push the stress to that and use the plastic mostly in compression
. I haven't done the math, or even thought this through very far, but I wonder if with careful design and a few techniques like this one could get to the point of being able to print blocks or other line or sail handling parts
that are under a higher load than plastic could normally be used for.
I imagine that eventually there could be a library of 'open source' sailing parts that are combinations of 3D printed parts and pieces of galvanized or PVC pipe, or other readily available parts in the hardware
stores of the world. With careful enough design, and creative use of commercially available parts, it may even be possible to make something like whisker pole ends or a windvane
. Taking this further, I can see how even if someone were to buy a commercial windvane
, or bilge pump
, it may be considered a feature if many of the specialized parts and a rich selection of mounting brackets can be printed on a common 3D printer.
I have a friend that uses his 3D printer to make pieces that he sand casts in bronze. Though very interesting, am not sure it's reasonable to bring the equipment
to do that on a random beach.
Anyways, I'm just wondering if other folks have thought this through further or played around with this. The technology is looking inexpensive enough that we may just bring one, with a couple rolls of material, and see what we come up with.