Bed Leveling with a Solenoid Actuator

Printer bed leveling with a solenoid probe
Ah, the woes of printer bed leveling. Unless you have a fancy 3D printer, bed leveling is a tedious task. [Rupin] got tired of messing around with his printer, so he decided to make his very own bed leveling sensor.

The goal was to create a Z-axis probe that works as both an auto-leveling sensor and as an end stop. He originally was trying to design something using a servo motor probe, but ended up chucking the idea since the motor was noisy and calibration was difficult.

He’s since switched over to use a solenoid actuator with an optoisolator to determine the position. The actuator extends an M3 screw which will touch the bed — as the position is adjusted, it is possible to adjust the bed using software for a perfectly level bed, every time.

[Read more...]

THP Hacker Bio: Neil Jansen


If we were running a contest to give away a trip to space for building the most innovative open hardware project a few years ago, the winner would inevitably be a 3D printer. Times have changed, 3D printing is reaching the limits of what can be done with simple plastic extrusion, and there are new hardware challenges to be conquered. One of the challenges facing hardware designers is the ability to create and assemble electronic circuits quickly. For that, there are a few pick and place machines being developed, the lowest cost being the FirePick Delta. It sells itself as a $300 pick and place machine borrowing heavily from the RepRap project, enabling tinkerers and engineers to assemble PCBs quickly.

[Neil Jansen] is the project lead for the FirePick Delta, and along with team members ranging from software developers in the bay area, to electronics technicians and high school students, they’ve created what will become the lowest cost and most capable pick and place machine available. Already the machine has tape feeders, tray feeders, a vision system, and modules to dispense solder paste. It’s an astonishing accomplishment, and were it not for some damage in shipping, we would have a video of [Neil] demoing the FirePick at Maker Faire NY.

In lieu of that, we do have a bio on [Neil] and what challenges he’s faced in building the FirePick. You can read that below, or check out their second demo video for The Hackaday Prize:

[Read more...]

3D Printing of Parameterized Speaker Enclosures


Despite what you would gather from looking at a mess of wires, carpet, and MDF in the back of a Honda Civic hatchback, building speaker enclosures is a pretty complex business. To get the right frequency response, you’ll need to take into account the driver’s resonant frequency, the volume of any internal components, and how well the speaker works when it reaches the resonant frequency. Heady stuff, but when [Rich] at NothingLabs started 3D printing his own speaker enclosures, he realized he could calculate an ideal enclosure automatically. Ah, the joys of OpenSCAD.

[Rich] wrote a bit of OpenSCAD and put it up on the Thingiverse Customizer, allowing anyone to manually enter a box volume, height and width ratio, size for a speaker hole, and even bass ports.

There are a few really cool features for this way of constructing speaker enclosures; assembly is a snap, and it’s most likely air tight right out of the printer. [Rich] printed an enclosure for a 3″ driver that has a frequency response down to 66Hz – an extremely impressive piece of work. Video below.

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WirePrint is a Physical ‘Print Preview’ for 3D Printers


3D printers may be old news to most of us, but that’s not stopping creative individuals from finding new ways to improve on the technology. Your average consumer budget 3D printer uses an extrusion technology, whereby plastic is melted and extruded onto a platform. The printer draws a single two-dimensional image of the print and then moves up layer by layer. It’s an effective and inexpensive method for turning a computer design into a physical object. Unfortunately, it’s also very slow.

That’s why Hasso Plattner Institute and Cornell University teamed up to develop WirePrint. WirePrint can slice your three-dimensional model into a wire frame version that is capable of being printed on an extrusion printer. You won’t end up with a strong final product, but WirePrint will help you get a feel for the overall size and shape of your print. The best part is it will do it in a fraction of the time it would take to print the actual object.

This is a similar idea to reducing the amount of fill that your print has, only WirePrint takes it a step further. The software tells your printer to extrude plastic in vertical lines, then pauses for just enough time for it to cool and harden in that vertical position. The result is much cleaner than if this same wire frame model were printed layer by layer. It also requires less overall movement of the print head and is therefore faster.

The best part about this project is that it’s a software hack. This means that it can likely be used on any 3D printers that use extrusion technology. Check out a video of the process below to see how it works. [Read more...]

Lulzbot & Lime Green Begonias

Lulzbot, or more specifically Aleph Objects, had a booth at Maker Faire this year, and unlike a lot of other 3D printer manufacturers they’re not afraid to show off what they currently have in development. The latest is code-named Begonia, although when it makes it to production it will probably be called the Lulzbot Mini. It’s a smaller version of their huge Taz 3D printer that trades build volume for a lower price.

The Lulzbot Mini will have a 6x6x6 inch build volume, heated bed, and all the other features you would expect in its larger counterpart. One interesting feature is automated nozzle cleaning and bed leveling. At the start of every print run, the nozzle runs over a small felt pad at the back of the build plate, touches off four metal washers at each corner, and recalculates the GCode for a level print. You can check out a demo of that in the video above.

Also in the works in the Lulzbot labs is a controller panel with an SD card, display, and (I think) a touch interface. Lulzbot didn’t have a demo of this, but rest assured, we’ll post something on that when it’s released. The last time we saw Lulzbot we heard of a 3D scanner project they’re working on that will turn any physical object into an .STL file, without having to mess about in Meshlab. Development on this project is stalled, but that is a very difficult problem. Can’t fault them for that.

Oh, the price for the unannounced Lulzbot Mini? Somewhere around $1300-1400.

NYC MakerFaire: A Really, Really Big Printer

Walk in to the science center at Maker Faire this year, and the first thing you’ll see is a gargantuan assemblage of aluminum extrusion spitting out molten plastic for one of the biggest 3D prints you’ve ever seen. It’s SeeMeCNC’s PartDaddy, a 16-foot tall 3D printer with a four foot diameter build plate.

The printer doesn’t extrude filament. Instead, this printer sucks up PLA pellets and extrudes them with a modified injection mold press mounted to a delta printer frame. That’s a 4mm nozzle squirting plastic. The heater for the extruder is 110 V, and the NEMA32 motors are controlled with 72V drivers. Everything about this is huge, and it’s surprisingly fast; a single-wall vase grew by about two feet in as many hours. We have no idea how fast a solid print can be completed, although the SeeMeCNC guys will probably find out later this weekend.

SeeMeCNC also had a neat little resin printer with an impossibly clever name on display. We’ll get a post up on that later this weekend.

3D Printer Gets Wheels, Leaves Trail Of Plastic Boxes

3&DBot Robot 3D Printer

The limitation of 3D Printer build volume is over. The folks over at NEXT and LIFE Labs have created a prototype robot with a 3D print head attached to it. Unlike a traditional 3D Printer that moves the print head around within the confines of a machine, the 3&DBot drives the print head around any flat surface, extruding as it goes.

Although the 3&DBot has 4 wheels, they are all stationary and face independent directions. Normally, this arrangement would only allow a vehicle to rotate in a circle. However, the wheels used here are not conventional, they are Mecanum-style with many mini-wheels around the main. This arrangement allows omnidirectional movement of the robot, depending on how each wheel is driven. If you haven’t seen this type of movement before, it is definitely worth watching the video after the break.

Sure, the print quality leaves something to be desired and the distance the print head is from the robot chassis may be a bit limiting but all new technology has to start somewhere. This is a great joining of two technologies. Don’t scoff, remember your Iphone 12 wouldn’t be possible without this.

[Read more...]


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