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MMD > Archives > August 2014 > 2014.08.07 > 04Prev  Next

Laser Cutter Makes Gaskets for Ampico Valves
By John Grant

Regarding Bill Decker's observations about 3-D printers [140805
MMDigest], I have been waiting for someone else to realize the
potential of these devices for replication of many hard-to-get
(anymore) parts used by the restorers among us.

I currently belong to a "maker space" group here in Baltimore
and have access to both a 3-D printer and a laser cutting machine.
So far I have made (with the printer) curtain valve grids for the
pump, pedal regulator and expression regulators in the Ampico B.
These are made from ABS plastic and are direct replacements for the
celluloid items which are frequently found in unserviceable condition.

It is relatively easy to construct the CAD files for these (and similar
parts) because they are essentially two-dimensional.  The thickness,
approximately 0.062" for these, is simply a function of how long you
let the part "build", i.e., the number of layers the print head
deposits.  In theory, more complicated parts, such as the Ampico A
transmission frame, can also be fabricated by this method, although
construction of the CAD file for a true 3-D part, with undercuts, is
a more complicated process which I have not yet attempted.

But not for long!  I have on order, and am expecting delivery of in
four to five weeks, a snazzy new 3-D printer made in Italy.  Compared
with other machines I have "reviewed", this particular machine has
several interesting features that I hope will make it more functional
than many.

For one, it has a built-in "scanning" function which uses both a laser
beam and/or a mechanical probe to simplify the construction of the CAD
files.  Place the object on the platform, push the start button and
wait while the object is scanned, documented and replicated without
further user input.  It remains to be seen whether this will be as easy
as described and if the precision and accuracy will be up to sufficient

Another feature of the "Fabtotum" machine ( )
allows the fused filament print head to be replaced with a 200-watt
high-speed milling head for subtractive manufacturing processes.
Initially, the fused filament extrusion head is a single-strand device,
but I believe an upgrade to a dual extruder is on the drawing board.

In my maker space I am using the laser cutter to make various gaskets,
so far using 0.020" blotter paper for valve plates and 0.060" "filled"
cork material for unit valves.  I have not yet tried cutting leather
but the cutter is supposed to be able to handle that as well.  So far
I have only made a few profiles but again, they are relatively simple
to do.

If you need a particular gasket and have either an accurately
dimensioned drawing or (preferred) an actual sample, send me an email
and I can work up a price for you.

John Grant
Baltimore, Maryland

 [ The skills and tools available at the "maker space" enable
 [ computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided engineering (CAE)
 [ and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), frequently simplified
 [ as "CAD/CAM".  -- Robbie

(Message sent Thu 7 Aug 2014, 21:10:04 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Ampico, Cutter, Gaskets, Laser, Makes, Valves

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