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From Prototype to Production: 3D Printing a Pocket Knife 

From Prototype to Production: 3D Printing a Pocket Knife

In the world of modern manufacturing, 3D printing has emerged as a revolutionary technology. The ability to turn a digital design into a physical object opens up countless possibilities and applications. We found an application that showcases the power of Markforged 3D printing in the creation of a fully 3D-printed pocket knife. In this blog post, we will take a deep dive into the process of designing and manufacturing a pocket knife using advanced 3D printing techniques. 

A Tour of the Shop

Before delving into the intricacies of 3D printing, let’s take a quick tour of the shop where the magic happens. At MLC CAD Systems, we offer a range of advanced printers and machines. From composite printers to metal printers, we have the tools necessary to bring our ideas to life. However, despite the impressive array of machinery, our workshop is relatively simple. It consists of basic hand tools, grinding and polishing wheels, and some random hardware. But don’t let the simplicity fool you – we are capable of achieving incredible feats with these tools. 

Designing the Prototype

The journey begins with a simple idea – to create a fully 3D printed pocket knife. Brice Babinec, a 3D printing technician at MLC CAD Systems, took on the challenge of designing this unique piece. Starting with a rough profile of the blade, Bryce decided to print it in its back orientation using a raft for stability. By leveraging the layer lines, he was able to add detailed features and a logo to the blade.  

 

Moving on to the handle, Brice opted for a practical approach, focusing on fit and function rather than aesthetics. Using a simple rectangle design, he incorporated a thumb spot for the blade lock, bolt holes for assembly, and cutouts for heat-set inserts. By printing the blade lock flat and oversized, Brice could file and shape it to perfection once it was assembled with the rest of the knife. To avoid the need for additional spacers, he seamlessly integrated the handles with the rest of the design. 

Printing the Prototype

With the design finalized, it was time to bring the prototype to life.  Multiple iterations were printed out for testing, starting with low-cost PLA materials and progressing to fully metal and industrial composite components after the design was finalized. Brice took advantage of Markforged printers, which use a combination of metal and composite materials, to print the various components of the pocket knife. The metal parts, including the blade, blade lock, and belt clip were printed using the Markforged Metal X system. The process involved layer by layer deposition of metal powder mixed with wax and plastic, followed by washing and sintering to create fully dense metal parts. 

 

The handles and other non-metallic parts were printed using Markforged composite printers. Brice chose Onyx, a nylon material with chopped carbon fiber, for its strength and durability. To further reinforce the handles, he added fiberglass using an isotropic fill pattern, ensuring maximum strength where it was needed.  For aesthetics, threads were added by embedding square nuts into the part to create a durable and smooth outer finish. By leveraging the unique capabilities of the Markforged printers, Bryce achieved a balance between printed metal and plastic components, resulting in a functional and aesthetically pleasing pocket knife. 

Final Thoughts

The journey from idea to a fully 3D printed pocket knife demonstrates the power and versatility of modern 3D printing technology. This project highlights how advanced printers can be harnessed to create intricate designs, utilizing different materials to optimize performance. With the ability to iterate quickly and at a relatively low cost, 3D printing opens up new avenues for innovation and customization. 

 

At MLC CAD Systems, we pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries of what is possible with 3D printing. This webinar served as an incredible opportunity to showcase the capabilities of our machines and inspire others to explore the vast potential of this technology. We hope you enjoyed this deep dive into the world of 3D printing and stay tuned for more exciting projects to come. 

 

If you have any questions or feedback about this webinar or 3D printing in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are always looking to engage with fellow enthusiasts and share our knowledge and expertise. Together, let’s continue to explore the limitless possibilities of 3D printing. 

Technical Support

Get help from our team by Calling us at 800-364-1652 x 4. You can also get assistance by clicking the Technical Support button or the Email Our Experts button below. 

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