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Old 10-07-2015, 08:19 AM #1
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Default 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

Wondering what people more experienced than myself think of using 3D printing to make laser hosts and heatsinks.

I imagine the host body isn't much of a concern, just do some measurements for the batteries and electronics and build around those specs. PLA and ABS are both strong plastics so durability shouldn't be too bad.

My real interest would be printing a viable heatsink, because if you could do that then you could print an entire host yourself.

No I know plastic isn't going to do anything useful. But there are some new "metal fill" filaments that can be printed out of *most* 3D printers (including the one I own). According to the spec sheet, these metal fill filaments are 80% metal powder with the remaining 20% being PLA. Theres a bronze-fill and a copper-fill, obviously copper being ideal for maximum conductivity.

Im curious what you all think. Could 80% metal be enough? If I were to sand the contact surfaces smooth and put a bit of thermal compound between them, do you think it would improve or reduce performance? Could this work for a high power ( 1 Watt+) laser, or be limited to modest power lasers?

I'll likely test this eventually, but my 3D printer is a bit broken and I'm waiting 2-3 weeks for parts to repair it, so I thought I would get some opinions while I wait.


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Old 10-07-2015, 08:52 PM #2
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Default Re: 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

I have quite a few low powered build ideas. I'd love to be able to have some stuff 3d printed. I don't know enough about 3D printing to know it's cost though. If it's half the cost of Ehmegus' work then it just isn't worth it. The cost would have to be substantially less.

I'd like to model a mount for a handheld RG:Y build. That's my new goal. I may have to figure out how to 3d Model. What program should I use? Can you point me in the right direction?
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Old 10-08-2015, 12:26 AM #3
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Default Re: 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

plastic laser hosts?????????? I'm good! lol sounds good though
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Old 10-08-2015, 01:15 AM #4
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Default Re: 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

Sure, but not for anything that actually needs heatsinking. You would be better off printing a host that has an area for an actual metal heatsink.

Also, how is power getting from your battery->through the host->to the diode/driver? The metal filament may be conductive, but I doubt it's that conductive.
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Old 10-08-2015, 02:17 AM #5
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Default Re: 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

Should be easy enough to figure out if the 3D material would be of any use as material for a host.

Just get the data sheets for the material and/or find out what the Thermal Conductivity is and compare it to other materials see: Thermal Conductivity of some common Materials and Gases
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Old 10-08-2015, 02:27 AM #6
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Default Re: 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

Hey Blarg King, those are viable questions and I think it might be doable but as others said you would need to check the material data to see what the conductivity rates are for both thermal/heat sink and current/host. Having even just 20% PLA might be a game stopper
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Old 10-08-2015, 05:03 AM #7
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Default Re: 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

Hmm, not sure if anyone has tested the conductivity rates.

As for cost, just plain plastic would be pretty cheap. Especially if you were doing some really exotic designs and comparing the cost of machining.
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Old 10-08-2015, 03:06 PM #8
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Default Re: 3D printed laser hosts and/or heatsinks

While others seem to be concerned with heat and conductivity of the materials; This doesn't concern me at all. You can 3d print a groove for a wire to run up the body or do like plastic flashlights do and have a 1/4" x Host Length piece of conductive metal strip. I've seen quite a few plastic flashlight hosts being used on much higher mW than what I intend to use. Seems like a moot point.
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