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Thread: Companies that make aluminum frames and thickness of 3D printed frames

  1. Companies that make aluminum frames and thickness of 3D printed frames

    Hi, can you please recommend good companies that can make nice aluminum frames at reasonable costs when CAD data are given by the customers? What kind of materials should I choose? In case of using PLA or ABS to 3D print the frames for dynamixel motors, what thickness do you recommend? Are 3D printed frames rigid and strong enough as frames for robots?

  2. #2

    Re: Companies that make aluminum frames and thickness of 3D printed frames

    To make aluminum frames, the cheapest way is to make a watercut or lasercut shop cut them out of something bendable, like 5052.
    BigBlueSaw.com is one such company that can do that. You will then have to bend them yourself -- they just do flat cuts.

    If you want to 3D print, you can probably make something in PLA that's good enough, if you make it about 1/8" thick, and make sure to have appropriate ribs and reinforcing struts, assuming your servos are AX12 or XL430 style. This is a mechanical construction challenge, but can probably be done and not break. Whether they are "rigid" enough depends entirely on what your robot is supposed to do, and how much load you put on them.

    Also, for 3D printing, I like Shapeways with the White Strong Flexible material, which is a sintered nylon; it's tougher and stronger than PLA or ABS, but it's a little bit more bendy, so you again have to make sure to get enough 3D reinforcing struts/ribs for the load.

    Finally, if you just want to upload a print (or Fusion f3d file or whatever) and receive working aluminum parts, you can try xometry.com. it's a site that will CNC mill parts for you, to spec, but the setup costs for the first part are typically several hundred dollars. Might be OK if you need 12 of the same bracket.

  3. Re: Companies that make aluminum frames and thickness of 3D printed frames

    Thanks jwatte. I made 3D printed frame for the MX-106 in the past but it broke. Yes, setup costs for the first part is a problem. Do you mean if I go for 3D printing, sintered nylon is better than PLA or ABS? How about PETG?

  4. Re: Companies that make aluminum frames and thickness of 3D printed frames

    You can certainly make 3D printed frames that are plenty strong, it is just a matter of putting enough plastic in the right places. Nearly all the structural elements of my quad A1 are just printed PETG, and it can jump off the ground.


  5. Re: Companies that make aluminum frames and thickness of 3D printed frames

    Quote Originally Posted by jpieper View Post
    You can certainly make 3D printed frames that are plenty strong, it is just a matter of putting enough plastic in the right places. Nearly all the structural elements of my quad A1 are just printed PETG, and it can jump off the ground.

    Nice. Is there a reason you used PETG rather than other materials? What places would need enough plastic?

  6. Re: Companies that make aluminum frames and thickness of 3D printed frames

    PETG is a reasonable comprise between durability, strength, and ease of printing. It has similar-ish properties to ABS, but can be printed without too much fuss. You don't need an enclosed build volume, and it doesn't put off too much in the way of fumes.

    As to where to put your plastic... well, that's engineering for you! Either guess, do FEA, or when things break, make them thicker!

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