Same here, I have a welding machine but it is only TIG So I cannot give this a try, you would need a MIG to do that, or something with automatic wire feed. Also, you’ll need to protect your machine from the high currents of the welding machine.
Again, no one tries to discourage you, we’re just giving advices given our experiences. I suggest you to try and build a MPCNC, see how it works first with 3D printing, then with milling and maybe after you’ll feel confident enough to try using the welding machine and summarize all you learnt to build a machine that can combine all these techniques.
In my opinion, it is doable, for a few basic parts, but I’m not sure it is with the MPCNC, because you’ll have to mill the steel between each pass and steel is a very hard material. Pretty sure you cannot do that in one pass too… So lets say that you print a 2mm thick layer of metal each pass, then you have to mill this to make it flat on the top and in the outside and maybe in the inside… you probably cannot go to full depth for the outside and inside paths, so in my opinion, for one single layer, you’ll need:
-1 path of printing
-1 path of milling to flatten the top (this needs to be done everywhere, including the infill)
-n passes of milling to contour the outside
-n passes of milling to contour the insides (if necessary)
-n passes of finishing for inside and or outside.
Repeat this operation for every single layer. It will be a slow process. Give the risk of failure at each operation, I guess the success rate will be low too.
A very important thing is that overhangs are probably impossible to do, since you need electricity to flow between the electrode and the part. Most of the parts do have overhangs. So it will be very limited in what it can accomplish no matter what.
If I had to build a metal 3D printer, I would definitely go to the laser and sand kind, they are way more difficult to build and use, but they are the only ones that really make sense so far.
Also, there is a huge difference between plastic and metal regarding what you said:
-Injection press are not the issue with plastic injection, it is the cost of the molds. That is why 3D printing plastic makes sense, because while prototyping you can save costs on mold making. A single mold usually cost between 1000 and 200 000 dollars here in China (1000 dollars is for very small or easy parts and a weak mould that cannot do series more than a few hundred products). Where I work, I would say that the average mould cost is about 5000USD. And this cost doesn’t include the cost of mould modifications whenever a customer ask for some change to compensate his design’s flaws, which is very often the case.
-A casting mould for steel is made of green sand, it costs virtually nothing, maybe a few bucks. It can be modified in a few hours just with a bit of woodworking skills.
This is why, IMO, those are two very different issues coming to two very different needs: casting metal is easy and cheap in most cases, injecting plastic isn’t.
But again, feel free to try, we will support you and give you all the help we can, that’s for sure. Even if it doesn’t work as good as expected in the end, it will be a fun project and, who knows, maybe it will help discovering new possibilities for DIY 3D printing metals