A group of students at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands are in the process of creating an open source metal 3D printer capable of printing decent sized test objects.
The device combines a Prusa i3 3D printer and a MIG welder, which is tethered to the printer where the extruder and hotend are usually located.
Using the Prusa i3’s Cartesian method of printing, the welder slowly melts a small spool of wire that is being fed into it and places the material down layer by layer to create an object.
At the moment, the process is slow, with the 3D welder feeding wire at a rate of 300mm/minute, compared to the 10,000mm/minute achieved by a decent thermoplastic-based 3D printer.
So far the team have used the method to 3D print a solid wall-like structure and a number of smaller circular shapes.
Inspired by research and development conducted last year at Michigan Technological University, the Delft students hope their open-source design will serve as another springboard toward affordable metal 3D printing.
Video: Delft University of Technology