I'll explain the title in a bit but first the premise;
Recently i've been working on a potentially commercial project which required some complex plastic parts that would either need to be cast or 3D printed.
I got quotes back that stated minimum order quantities of around 500 units with costs of well over £1000, this was untenable as i still don't really know if there is a demand, so i'd rather given up on it.
That is until i found a company called 'Shapeways' who specialise on one-offs and small quantity 3D printing in a variety of plastics, metals and ceramics at what i would consider a very good price for this service.
I've ordered the prototype parts i needed but then started thinking about what else i had designed that would benefit from being 3D printed.
3D printing has some serious limitations over machining but does allow an amazing variety of shapes unachievable by any other method.
Although not stretching 3D printings true potential, i entered a modified model of my brass AAA torch to see how much it would cost in the different material choices but the only suitable material for a torch body offered is sterling silver as the stainless steel option doesn't allow the fine detail to make threads.
The cost of making these parts out of sterling silver comes to $220 or £150 approx but since my original brass AAA torch was built around the internals of the $3 MXDL 3W torch i'm struggling to see any merit to it (i'm still going to order one to see what it's like but i can't pretend it's a good idea).
This is what it would look like:
The over exaggerated lip is due to the need to maintain the necessary minimum wall thickness.
This got me thinking however that torches could be made with this process and if it was impressive enough it could warrant the cost of being made from silver.
I was thinking along the lines of the gatlights skeletonised body but without the need for it to be screwed together, the whole body section can be cast as one single piece.
Also since silver is the best is the best thermal and electrical conductor of any metal a rather impressive lumen output could be included.
I would recommend having a look at some of the designs on the Shapeways website as some of them are impressively complex to the point of disbelief.