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Thread: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

  1. #1
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    LF cameras have been made with injection moulded plastic and carbon fiber parts in the past.

    Has anyone tried to make part or most of a view camera with any mode of 3D printing?

    I do recall hearing about someone from eastern Europe doing this, but no real follow-up.

    I would think that the technique could be used to make limited runs of small parts or adapter lens boards and the like . . .what about a set of light-weight standard film holders or resurrect the MIDO system? How about a light-weight Grafmatic magazine?
    Drew Bedo
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    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  2. #2

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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    For things like lens boards and panels for a field camera, laser cutting from flat stock probably makes more sense as it would be cheaper. I wouldn't be surprised if this camera is from laser cut plywood. Presumably you could laser cut the flat metal components too. You might 3D print some small parts. I saw elsewhere that some of the 3D printed materials are not opaque enough at thicknesses that would make the camera light enough.

    What about bellows? Could you make something that was supported by coiled wire like a drier vent but would still collapse decently? I guess tube diameter would be a factor or you would have to make one that was rectangular, which would not be standard.

    I like your idea about a new Grafmatic magazine. I had a similar thought. They look to be made from stamped sheet metal. Wouldn't know where to begin with that one.

    What is the MIDO system?
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  3. #3
    retrogrouchy
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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    Absolutely it is possible. Laser-cut acrylic is likely a more-appropriate technology if you want to design something unique and have it manufactured on the cheap without lots of hard work.

    Look at thingiverse or the RepRap wiki and see all the variations of 3D printers, for which all the complex parts are printed on said printers. More than capable of making an LF camera, and I've seen open source medium format cameras printed.

    For example, I printed an adapter that widens a Jobo 2502 spiral so that it holds 70mm film. It's got the same bayonet fittings that the spirals do, all directly printed.

  4. #4
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    Plastic is no longer the only material available. I read that metal parts may now be 3D printed in brass stainless steel and even titanium. So knobs and catches may be duplicated, gears and tracks too I'd think.All those old focal plane shutters.

    Adapters for Polaroid conversions are a natural one-off project idea. Other conversion adapters are an expansion to that concept. Why not a cross-over adapter to link a right angle mirror housing for use as an eye-level viewer on a Graflex Reflex?
    Drew Bedo
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    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  5. #5

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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    [QUOTE=Drew Bedo;1172575]knobs and catches may be duplicated, gears and tracks too I'd think./QUOTE]

    Knobs (screw machine work), catches (stampings), gears/racks (casting/gear hobbing/horizontal milling) are likely better done the conventional ways. Cheaper (knobs), better mechanical properties (catches), better materials such as oil-impregnated brass racks (gears/racks), etc. Where 3D printing shines would be producing a part that was formerly an intricate casting (Cambo Wide body, original plastic Arca A/B/C format frames, Arca compatible format frames in other sizes (4x10, 7x11, 5x12, etc.)).
    They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
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  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    Of course all those things can be made with conventional methods, but I think Drew is interested in things like a $5 3D printed replacement knob or a $50 3D printed film back, rather than a $100 machined replacement knob or a $300 wood-and metal film back.

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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    [QUOTE=John Schneider;1172968]
    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Bedo View Post
    Knobs (screw machine work), catches (stampings), gears/racks (casting/gear hobbing/horizontal milling) are likely better done the conventional ways.
    Cheaper, most likely yes. Better - not necessarily. 3D printing of metals appears to yield quite high-quality results. I understand the properties of the parts are comparable from a metallurgical perspective to conventionally manufactured and annealed parts. I was slightly surprised at this, but I know printed metal parts are used in quite critical industrial applications already.

    The tipping point is mostly determined by (a) the volumes to be produced, (b) machine + labor costs for both approaches and (c) any molds and other dedicated equipment/rigs required for a specific part.

  8. #8
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    Of course all those things can be made with conventional methods, but I think Drew is interested in things like a $5 3D printed replacement knob or a $50 3D printed film back, rather than a $100 machined replacement knob or a $300 wood-and metal film back.
    Right: If one is restoring a camera and some part cannot be found, getting one replicated from a part on the other side could be made . . .the price might be less important as the rarity of the camera is high. Replacement gears for rare medium format bodies or diaphragm blades for ancient shutters . . .specialty parts.

    High specification plastic construction for things like odd-sized film holders or a new Grafmatic could be made. I'm disappointed that there is a production problem for the Wandrelust TravelWide project. I hope they can bring the first run out and move into general production. It may be that the Helical focusing mount can only be made workable via 3D printing.
    Drew Bedo
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    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  9. #9

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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    http://www.shapeways.com/model/13278...l?materialId=6

    this is a 3d printed 4x5 pinhole, i assume you could do something similar with a real lens.

  10. #10

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    Re: Is a 3D Printed LF camera Possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by rakkir View Post
    http://www.shapeways.com/model/13278...l?materialId=6

    this is a 3d printed 4x5 pinhole, i assume you could do something similar with a real lens.
    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:143882

    Here is a 4x5 pinhole Camera that is 3D printable. I have not tried it as of yet.

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