3d printing is rapidly developing to be one of the hottest topics out there. The ability to print physical objects in your home, either for repairing appliances, or creating completely new items, is amazing. Almost every day there's some new story about 3d printing in the news, from printing robots, to 3d printing using chocolate, even 3d printing guns!

The fact that many of these 3d printer blueprints are open source means you can even download the plans and build your own, or find an easy to assemble 3d printer kit. Even if you already have a printer, you'll enjoy the 3d printer hacks for existing models, such as hacking the up printer to use spools instead of expensive cartridges, or 3d printing in multiple colors.

If someone is pushing the envelope on the capabilities of 3d printing, you'll most likely find it here first.

Filament Extruder Pumps Out 1kg/hour!

3d printer filament factory

3D printers are awesome, and while the plastic filament may not be as much as a rip off as printer ink (yet), it’s still marked up at least 500%! If you really want to break free, you’re going to need your own filament extruder.

ABS, a typical printing material, will run you about $30 USD per kilogram. Don’t get us wrong, that will go a long way — but did you know ABS pellets (technically processed MORE than filament) can be as cheap as $3-4/kg?

What if you could buy the pellets, and make your own filament with them? If you do a lot of printing, this could save you a lot of money. We’ve seen lots of different filament extruders here on Hackaday, and here’s yet another iteration — capable of extruding at an extremely fast rate of 1kg per hour! [Ian McMill] was inspired by [Xabbax's] Low Cost Filament Extruder, and has put together an excellent Instructable guide on how to make your own — with his own flair of course.

Take a look!

BeagleBone Black + RAMPS


The BeagleBone Black, with an impressive amount of computing power and a whole bunch of I/O, would make an impressive CNC controller, save for two shortcomings: The BBB isn’t in stock anywhere, and CNC capes are a little on the pricey side. [Marc Peltier] can’t do anything about finding a distributor that doesn’t have the BeagleBone on backorder for you, but he did come up with an adapter for the very popular RAMPS-FD 3D printer controller board (Forum, French, Here’s the Google translation matrix).

The RAMPS-FD is an extension of the RAMPS board and a shield for the Arduino Due. Both the Due and BBB work on 3.3 V, meaning controlling the RAMPS-FD is simply a matter of finding the correct wiring diagram and pin assignments on the BeagleBone. [Marc] solved this problem by using the settings from the BeBoPr cape and using the existing BeBoPr LinuxCNC configuration.

The end result of [Marc]‘s tinkering is something a lot like [Charles Steinkueler]‘s CNC capes for the BeagleBone Black we saw at the Midwest RepRap Fest. [Charles] isn’t selling his capes, but no one else seems to be selling BeagleBone Blacks, either.

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Using Non-Crappy Software With The Da Vinci Printer


The Da Vinci printer from XYZprinting is turning out to be one of the best buys in the world of cheap, consumer printers. Sure, it uses chipped filament, but that’s an easy fix for anyone who knows what a .hex file is. And yes, the Da Vinci host software is a mess of proprietary garbage with limited functionality, but [Mark] has figured out a way around that.

When [Mark] received his Da Vinci, he immediately started snooping around inside the printer’s guts, like any good tinkerer should. He found an SD card holding all the sample prints that ship with the printer, all in a convenient Gcode format. Inside these sample .STL files were all the calls you would expect – setting the temperature, changing the layer height, and all the other good stuff you’d find in any other RepRap.

With a little bit of modification to .STL files generated by any slicing program, [Mark] isn’t limited any more by the terrible host software that ships with the Da Vinci. Combine this with the ability to reset the chip inside the filament cartridge, and [Mark] has a printer at least as functional as any open hardware model.

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Awww Shoot! My Spool Doesn’t Fit My Holder


The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from. Filament spools certainly do not deviate far from this sarcastic saying. So what are we 3D Printer folks to do? Here are a couple completely different DIY options:

[Mark] made a spool holder that can accept 2 different width spools. This design uses skate bearings to support the spool on two points at each end. There are 3 sets of bearing blocks to accommodate the 2 different width spools. When either size spool is installed, one of the bearing block sets goes unused.

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A 3D Printed Cryptex


Once you’ve dialed in your 3D printer calibration settings, you enter the phase of printer ownership where you’re eager to show off what you can make, and you’re sure to impress with [pjensen's] 3d printed cryptex spinning around in your hands.

If you’re a regular reader of our 3D Printering column, then the behind-the-scenes screengrabs should look familiar: [pjensen] used Autodesk Inventor to sculpt the shapes, staring with the cryptex’s individual rings. After embossing the alphabet across each ring, [pjensen] adds slots into the inner loops for pins to slide through. An outer chamber holds the rings in place and prohibits access to the interior chamber, which is held in place on both sides by an end cap.

Lining up the rings to spell the correct word allows the inner chamber to slide free of the whole assembly, revealing whatever goodies may lie inside. You can follow [pjensen's] step-by-step guide to build your own cryptex, or just download his model and start printing.

Automated Bed Leveling For 3D Printers Is Now Solved


The latest and greatest feature for 3D printers – besides being closed source, having no meaningful technical specs, and being on track towards pulling in $10 Million on a Kickstarter – is automated bed leveling. This amazingly useful feature makes sure your prints have proper adhesion to the bed, reduce print errors, and put even inexpensive printers into the realm of extremely expensive professional machines. Automated bed leveling has been extremely hard to implement in the past, but now [Scottbee] has it figured out with a working prototype on his Makerbot Replicator 2X.

Earlier attempts at automated bed leveling used some sort of probe on the tool head to measure the build plate, calculate its flatness and orientation in space, and compensate for any tilt in software. [Scottbee]‘s solution to the problem took a different tack: instead of trying to compensate for any odd orientation of the build surface in software, he’s simply making the bed level with a series of springs and cam locks.

[Scottbee]‘s device levitates the build plate on three springs, and replaces the jack screws with three “gimballing pins” and pin locks. With the pin locks disengaged, the bed plate is pressed down with the printer’s nozzle. By moving the extruder across the build plate and locking the pins in place one by one, [Scottbee]‘s device defines the plane of the build plate along three points. This makes the build platform parallel to the extruder nozzle, and also has a nice benefit of setting the distance from the build platform to the nozzle precisely with incredible repeatability.

The mechanics of locking the three gimballing pins in place  only requires a single DC gear motor, driven by an extra fan output on the Makerbot’s electronics. It’s simple, and with a bit of rework, it looks like most of the device could also be 3D printed.

An awful lot of RepRaps and 3D printers out there already use three points to attach the build plate to a frame. With a little bit of effort, this same technique could be ported and made a bit more generic than the Makerbot-based build seen above. It’s amazingly simple, and we can’t wait to see this applied to a normal RepRap.

Thanks [Josh] for the tip.

Printing In Three Dimensions, For Real This Time


3D printers don’t continuously print in three dimensions – they print one layer, then another, then another. This is true for every single 3D printing technology, but now Topolabs has a very interesting technique that changes that. They’re printing in three dimensions by moving in the Z axis while also printing in the X and Y axes.

The basic idea behind Topolabs’ software is to print a support block, then print an object right on top of the support. The support block can be curved and convex, and the finished product follows the contours of the solid support block. Unlike ‘printing with supports’, the printer extrudes along the X, Y, and Z axes, which should make the finished product much, much stronger.

There are a few drawbacks to the technique – a release agent must be applied to the top of the support block. In the video below, Topolabs is using Kapton, but hair spray or glue sticks will also work. There’s also a limit to how steep an incline a printer can print, determined by the size of the extruder nozzle. Lastly, this technique would be much better suited for a delta-style bot, but the team is getting very good results with a normal Cartesian bot.

You can see a few videos of the Topolabs printing technique below.

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