3D printed trailer? We will see... - Fiberglass RV
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Old 02-06-2018, 06:24 PM   #1
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3D printed trailer? We will see...

A Saskatoon company proposes to make trailers by 3D printing:

The world’s first 3D-printed camper will be printed in Saskatoon

I loved my '79 Trillium and I love my '17 Escape, but consider me to be dubious about this. I love the idea of 3D printing for prototyping and maybe making models for molds, but for a whole trailer? Particularly as the print time is 10-14 days per trailer.

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Old 02-06-2018, 06:33 PM   #2
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The aliens did it first!

Bob Lazar said the UFO's he inspected at Area 51 had no seams......
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Old 02-06-2018, 06:51 PM   #3
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Interesting, but its basically just the shell. Windows would have to be installed in openings, appliances added and plumbing and electrical run to them. An axle attached with tires and wheels, brake lights, hitch, jacks, etc. So I see a lot of work to be done after the camper is made. Its intriguing but a lot more goes into making a camper than what a 3D printer can do... unless Im missing something.
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Old 02-06-2018, 07:40 PM   #4
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Interesting, but its basically just the shell. Windows would have to be installed in openings, appliances added and plumbing and electrical run to them. An axle attached with tires and wheels, brake lights, hitch, jacks, etc. So I see a lot of work to be done after the camper is made. Its intriguing but a lot more goes into making a camper than what a 3D printer can do... unless Im missing something.
Yes, but this is all in it's infancy. With a trailer where the shell is printed instead of molded, there's no mold, just a design drawing and a computer program. No mold means you can change the shape or size or design on the fly. The resulting structure can be strong and light as well, and impervious to moisture. It's an exciting prospect, although it's obviously going to be a while before we know if it's economically viable and practical. What is known is that 3D printing is a revolutionary technology with an amazing number of possible applications.
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Old 02-06-2018, 08:29 PM   #5
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Maybe someday. Maybe.

Considering the strength and refinement of the material that now has a UV resistant, glossy gelcoat, over a fiberglass impregnated resin structure of hand laid or woven glass, and some cored construction panels, as well as a rigid floor structure, the new "printed" version would be completely different in design.

Fine. Different is good. But it won't be just another egg clone.

I wonder how many recycled milk jugs it would take to make an entire trailer body? And what happens when it sits in the sun for years?

Sometimes, existing and proven technologies are hard to beat, but if you want the advantages of "printed" over "molded", and assuming there are some advantages, which is a stretch, why not just go with injection molded? Those could be popped out about one every 30 seconds.
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Old 02-06-2018, 09:22 PM   #6
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conventional 3D printing is SLOW, and also not suitable for objects over a few inches in the longest dimension. there are other sorts of 3D printing but they are very expensive. and the 2nd unit takes just as long to make as the first.
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Old 02-06-2018, 09:25 PM   #7
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Maybe someday. Maybe.

Considering the strength and refinement of the material that now has a UV resistant, glossy gelcoat, over a fiberglass impregnated resin structure of hand laid or woven glass, and some cored construction panels, as well as a rigid floor structure, the new "printed" version would be completely different in design. I'd imagine that any commercially viable "printed" trailer would be far different than this first attempt, perhaps with far different media and faster production.

Fine. Different is good. But it won't be just another egg clone.

I wonder how many recycled milk jugs it would take to make an entire trailer body? And what happens when it sits in the sun for years?

Sometimes, existing and proven technologies are hard to beat, but if you want the advantages of "printed" over "molded", and assuming there are some advantages, which is a stretch, why not just go with injection molded? Those could be popped out about one every 30 seconds.
Well, it's a stretch right now. As you said, maybe someday. Even an injection mold requires a mold, and can't be modified almost instantly. You're right about the material as well. The plastic they will use is by no means proven as a suitable material for a real trailer someone would actually buy.

All that said, lots of technologies all start out like this, with lots of things to prove and questions to answer before they can go mainstream. Just 20 years ago the smartphone in our pockets would have been inconceivable.
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Old 02-06-2018, 10:28 PM   #8
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Well, it's a stretch right now. As you said, maybe someday. Even an injection mold requires a mold, and can't be modified almost instantly. You're right about the material as well. The plastic they will use is by no means proven as a suitable material for a real trailer someone would actually buy.

All that said, lots of technologies all start out like this, with lots of things to prove and questions to answer before they can go mainstream. Just 20 years ago the smartphone in our pockets would have been inconceivable.
Of course you're right about not knowing what the future holds and how refinement makes ridiculous things turn out to be very useable. We can all come up with fantastic, futuristic ideas, but they don't gain credibility simply by being fantastic. I love to be amazed by new ideas, and they have more credibility if they carry a promise of being better in ways that matter. Better if you can imagine how it might be done somewhere over the horizon. It would be fun if they could 3D print smart phones or tricorders too, for instance.
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Old 02-06-2018, 10:42 PM   #9
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It would be fun if they could 3D print smart phones or tricorders too, for instance.
They can print smartphones - well - at least the cases. Tricorders, not so much.

The tricorder reference reminded me of a satire I saw where the Star Trek crew went back in time to the present day. When the people saw their communicators they mocked them for their old fashioned flip phones.
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Old 02-06-2018, 11:12 PM   #10
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The tricorder reference reminded me of a satire I saw where the Star Trek crew went back in time to the present day. When the people saw their communicators they mocked them for their old fashioned flip phones.
That got me laughing!
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Old 02-07-2018, 06:33 AM   #11
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how far it has come.....

Its amazing how far it has already come. If you fly today on a newer model Boeing 737 or an Airbus A320 and it has a General Electric LEAP engine on it (and chances are it does), those engine have fuel nozzles on them that are 3D printed. They are flying today. They are subject to the temperatures of a jet engine combustion chamber. And they do it today!
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Old 02-07-2018, 09:13 AM   #12
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I have worked with a company that printed jet turbine blades on a 3D printer for a lost wax mold process, (no they did not print with wax). The end result was +/- 1000th of an inch. Though it still required some finishing.

The plastic that they are printing this trailer from is just that, plastic. Since there are no glass fibers, I have to believe that the strength is less compared to fibreglass.
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Old 02-07-2018, 09:21 AM   #13
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The plastic that they are printing this trailer from is just that, plastic. Since there are no glass fibers, I have to believe that the strength is less compared to fibreglass.
Totally agree, but how long before some new material is used, perhaps a type of fiberglass/resin, or perhaps something completely different, with the strength and material characteristics that are suitable? I see this as an attempt to show how large an object can be printed - an experiment - and that's where it can start.
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Old 02-07-2018, 09:51 AM   #14
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Great for prototyping! Until it becomes "Laser printer" Speed....well... right now 3D printing for the most part is a big toy! It has lots of good uses but for the full-sized industry, the "additive" process is basically in the perpetual development stages and we'll see GREAT things come from this in the future.

But I'm not sure we'll be living to see the day they spit out a fiberglass trailer in a tray in about 30 sec!
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Old 02-07-2018, 10:51 AM   #15
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I seem to recall a recent post ridiculing a stick built manufacturer that cranks out a complete trailer in about six hours.

In an industry segment (fiberglass) that thrives on long lead times of six to nine months, producing a shell in two weeks doesn't seem to be a big deal if the end result is what consumers want. That is the key.

So if I run two printers, I can increase production to one a week? What about 14 printers? Visions of Henry Ford.

Innovation requires people to dream. Many fortunes have been made and lost tring to perfect the fiberglass egg.

Let's not be throwing rocks. All I have to do is look around the other 95% of the RV industry to find loads of people who don't believe fiberglass eggs are viable alternatives whatsoever.

If you took Airstream's business model (tin trailers) to seek investors, I seriously question whether you could attract funding. Yet they are perhaps the longest surviving RV manufacturer.

I say bring it on.
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Old 02-07-2018, 11:36 AM   #16
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If you took Airstream's business model (tin trailers) to seek investors, I seriously question whether you could attract funding. Yet they are perhaps the longest surviving RV manufacturer.
Ummm..... The Nest is an Airstream fibreglass trailer.
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Old 02-07-2018, 11:40 AM   #17
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Airstreams aren't really made of tin either, but don't miss the point.
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Old 02-07-2018, 03:41 PM   #18
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This is, of course, just the beginning. I'm old enough to remember when "fiberglass" boats were wooden boats with only exterior hulls covered with fiberglass cloth and resin. And the problem of the fiberglass preventing the wood hull from drying out properly (from water soaking in from inside) and promoting dry rot. "This system will never work." "If God had meant boats to be made of fiberglass He would have made tree sap out of polyester." Etc. "No one" would have believed everything from boats to house trailers to airplanes would be built from "that stuff."

Computer 3D printing started only a few years ago with only small plastic parts printed in a development laboratory. Now it is using everything from plastics (some are amazingly strong) to metals to animal tissues (an artificial ear was done IIRC). With a little engineering ingenuity the next model may print the metal chassis first and then the plastic body right on top if it in one continuous operation. Or an integrated chassis made from a plastic with the strength of metal. All of the inside plastic cupboards, bed and bench structures, and partitions could be printed while the body is printed. No more separately molded parts to be riveted or screwed on. With a little imagination who knows what new materials and processes will be developed. Never say it can't be done. "Fiberglass airplanes will never fly." Except I happen to own one and it does fly. And, of course, there is the Boeing 777.
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Old 02-07-2018, 04:00 PM   #19
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Or an integrated chassis made from a plastic with the strength of metal. All of the inside plastic cupboards, bed and bench structures, and partitions could be printed while the body is printed. No more separately molded parts to be riveted or screwed on.
Plastic, with the strength of metal would be a leap ahead in materials. I don't think that this is about materials, just manufacturing.

No assembly also means no disassembly. Servicing a printed RV may be problematic.

Don't get me wrong, I am fairly excited about the developments in 3D printing, but currently, it is very slow, and practical only for a limited number of applications.
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Old 02-07-2018, 10:49 PM   #20
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Plastic, with the strength of metal would be a leap ahead in materials. I don't think that this is about materials, just manufacturing.

No assembly also means no disassembly. Servicing a printed RV may be problematic.

Don't get me wrong, I am fairly excited about the developments in 3D printing, but currently, it is very slow, and practical only for a limited number of applications.
We have seen leaps ahead in materials regularly. Actually from fiberglass to carbon fiber in composites was quite a leap. That created lighter, stronger composites that made the 777 possible. As far as "plastic" goes, the proper name of fiberglass composite is FRP - Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic. Who knows what's next in plastic? Actually "printing" is a misnomer. It is actually micro molding. The same sort of thing as welding. Some fiberglass is already blown with a "chopper gun." A combination of short fibers and resin sprayed on a mold. Not as good as cloth layup, but it works for some applications. How about combination "printing" with one head laying down fiberglass strands/rope and another saturating it with resin? About the time you say "impractical" someone will figure out how to do it.

When I started working with/on computers back in the '60s we didn't even have floppy discs. When the first ones came out who could ever need more that 256k bytes on a disk? Now we have tiny chips that hold gigabytes and fit in cameras. Using a technology that wasn't even dreamed about back then.

As for manufacturing, this trailer project required the design of new high flow print nozzles. And the "printer" is a machine 28 feet by seven feet by sever feet. Not exactly a desktop job. Science and engineering will make them bigger, and faster, and able to print with materials we haven't even thought of yet. And maybe sooner than we expect.

As for servicing, I have owned fiberglass boats in which the entire inner hull, bunks, settees, storage compartments, etc. were molded in one unit and bonded to the inside of the hull as a unit. Holes can be/were cut through where necessary for wiring plumbing, etc. No big deal.

"...practical only for a limited number of applications." From travel trailers to human body parts. That's pretty limited.

And it's all computer controlled. I've got a wireless printer (paper) in my house. I can print on it from three separate computers in three separate rooms (actually one is a laptop that travels all over the house) without wire connections (local wifi). Consider several/many 3D printers scattered around the country printing custom designed travel trailers all controlled from one central computer in the design office. Lower shipping costs. How about printers on the backs of trucks that can be used to print the trailer right at the customer's home? If you can imagine it it can probably be done. And done better than imagined.

I'm too old. I'd sure like to be around another 10 or 20 years just to watch technological "progress." I've seen a lot in 80 years and the curve just keeps getting steeper. Self driving cars. Self flying airplanes. Then just do away with it all. Go anywhere in virtual reality while sitting in your living room.

Well, this is way off subject, but certainly exciting to think about.
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