Using 3D Printing At Jefferson Lab

I wish that we had had one when I worked there.  In fact the lab needs a metal printer as well as that Makerbot.  Being able to make single parts and very small runs is important in a physics lab environment.  As often as not you are designing stuff that will only be used once, or not at all.  A good portion of what you do doesn’t even exist in the commercial world and your low volumes and custom requirements mean that you pay through the nose.  You are also constantly improvising and hacking stuff together.  In that kind of environment having something like a Makerbot is perfect.  You can design a mockup, print it and have it on the machine in hours. Even if you don’t have the final part made you can avoid the kinds of mistakes that can get very costly in time and money.


  1. MadRocketSci · June 8, 2015

    I actually bought a 3d printer myself a year ago. So far, it has been a wonderful toy. (Also very handy when you need a funny enclosure or sample box)

    Where I run into problems is that most of the things I need to build have to go in a high temperature environment in a vacuum chamber: Nothing plastic can go in there, so it’s still the bridgeport and stainless steel for me whenever I need to build things.

    How expensive are these sintered metal printers these days? Any chance they will come down to hobbyist range, or are they always going to be more “new car” or “new house” machine tool price range?


    • jccarlton · June 8, 2015

      I’m in the same place. I’ve seen some rumblings about cheaper sintered metal printers and there are some people playing with using welders for making a printer, but so far metal printers are still in the house car range. Baking stuff out does create problems. Been there, done that.


  2. Pingback: What’s It Really Like Working At A DOE National Lab. | The Arts Mechanical

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