Turning A Laser Cutter Into A 3D Printer With OpenSLS

STL

[Andreas Bastian] has been working on a device that turns an off-the-shelf laser cutter into something capable of selective laser sintering of powdered plastics into 3D objects. He’s put in a lot of work, but now he gets to see the fruits of his labor: he’s successfully printed a few objects out of wax and powdered nylon.

Unlike just about every other inexpensive 3D printer, [Andreas]‘ design doesn’t rely on either squirting plastic onto a bed or curing liquid resin with UV light. Instead, a fine layer of powder is spread over a build platform and melted with a laser. The melted layer drops down, another layer of powder is applied, and the cycle repeats until the part is finished. It’s a challenge to build one of these machines, but [Andreas] had the great idea of retrofitting an off-the-shelf laser cutter, allowing him to focus on the difficult task of designing the powder and piston system.

It’s an extremely interesting project, and most of the custom parts are made from laser cut acrylic: easily cut to size on whatever laser cutter you’re retrofitting with 3D printing capability. There’s a lot of info over on the Wiki, and a few videos showing the sintering process and powder distribution below.

Oh. One last note. [Andreas] developed this while at [Jordan Miller]‘s amazing lab at Rice University. There’s a lot of interesting things happening at this Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute, including bioprinting, DLP resin printers, and using inkjets for cell cultures. Check out this post for a great talk at the Midwest RepRap Festival.

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Automated Home Manufacturing Combining 3D Printing With Robotics

automated 3d printer

[Florian] has been hard at work creating this automated setup to queue jobs for his 3D printer in order for it to run while he’s not around. It’s not quite finished but the concept is there and he’s started doing some tests! 

He’s using the uArm, which was a highly successful kickstarter earlier this year — it’s an Arduino-compatible microcontroller driven 4-axis parallel-mechanism robot arm, based off of the industrial ABB PalletPack robot.

As soon as he got all the parts he setup a quick test to replace the build platforms using the uArm.

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Koch Lamp is 3D Printed with a Twist

Koch Lamp

[repkid] didn’t set out to build a lamp, but that’s what he ended up with, and what a lamp he built. If the above-pictured shapes look familiar, it’s because you can’t visit Thingiverse without tripping over one of several designs, all based on a fractal better known as the Koch snowflake. Typically, however, these models are intended as vases, but [repkid] saw an opportunity to bring a couple of them together as a housing for his lighting fixture.

Tinkering with an old IKEA dioder wasn’t enough of a challenge, so [repkid] fired up his 3D printer and churned out three smaller Koch vases to serve as “bulbs” for the lamp. Inside, he affixed each LED strip to a laser-cut acrylic housing with clear tape. The three bulbs attach around a wooden base, which also holds a larger, central Koch print at its center. The base also contains a PICAXE 14M2 controller to run the dioder while collecting input from an attached wireless receiver. The final component is a custom control box—comprised of both 3D-printed and laser-cut parts—to provide a 3-dial remote. A simple spin communicates the red, green, and blue values through another PICAXE controller to the transmitter. Swing by his site for a detailed build log and an assortment of progress pictures.

 

Poor Man’s 3D Printer Looks Rough, Prints Great!

dvd drive printer

In this Instructable, [Gelstronic] proves anyone can afford a 3D printer. Why? Because you can literally build one out of computer e-waste — specifically, DVD/CD drives.

His goal was to build a printer for less than a hundred euros. And he darn well did it. The most expensive part was the hot-end coming in at 20 euros. He managed to find a Chinese Arduino MEGA 2560 for only 10 euros, and everything else was basically pocket change.

The hot end features a geared NEMA 17 look-a-like stepper motor he found in a printer, and the XYZ axis all make use of the DVD drive trays. The only downside to this massive reusing of e-waste is the bed size. Due to the limited range of motion on the DVD trays, his build area is only 40 x 40 x 40 mm, which in the world of 3D printing is pretty tiny. On the plus side, he’s even thrown in a heated bed making use of two 7W resistors which can get it all the way up to 110°C!

After a bit of tweaking he was able to get some surprisingly good prints, with a 10mm cube coming out at 10.06mm! He must have a pretty good caliper Anyway, check out the following demo!

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Man Builds Concrete 3D Printer in His Garage

ConcretePrinter

[Andrey Rudenko] is building a house in his garage. Not with nails and lumber, but with concrete extruded by his 3D printer. We’ve seen concrete 3D printers in the past, but unlike those projects, [Andrey] isn’t part of a of a university or corporation. He’s just a contractor with a dream. His printer is directly derived from the RepRap project. It’s even commanded by Pronterface.

[Andrey] started with an Arduino Mega 2560 based RepRap RAMPS style controller. His big printer needed big NEMA34 stepper motors, far beyond the current capacity of the stock RAMPS stepper drivers. [Andrey] got in touch with [James] at MassMind who helped him with an open source THB6064AH based driver. [James] even came up with an adaptor cable and PCB which makes the new drivers a drop-in replacement.

Now that his printer was moving, [Andrey] needed a material to print. Concrete chemistry is a science all its own. There are many specialty blends of concrete with specific strength and drying times. Trucking in custom mixtures can get expensive. [Andrey] has come up with his own mixture based on bags of regular concrete mix, sand, and some additives. [Andrey's] special sauce doesn’t cure especially quickly, but it is viscous enough to print with.

Every piece of [Andrey's] printer had to be designed and refined, including the nozzle. The concrete printer works somewhat like a frostruder, extruding concrete in 20mm wide by 5mm tall layers. He’s even managed to print overhanging layers and arches exactly like a giant RepRap Mendel.

The printer’s great unveiling will be this summer. [Andrey] plans to print a playhouse sized castle over the course of a week. He’s looking to collaborate with architects, builders, and other like-minded folks. We’d suggest uploading the project to  Hackaday.io!

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OpenExposer, The DIY SLA Printer

printer

Precisely applied ultraviolet light is an amazing thing. You can expose PCBs, print 3D objects, and even make a laser light show. Over on the Projects site, [Mario] is building a machine that does all of these things. It’s called the OpenExposer, and even if it doesn’t win the Hackaday Prize, it’s a great example of how far you can go with some salvaged electronics and a 3D printer.

The basic plan of the OpenExposer is a 3D printer with a small slit cut into the bed, and a build platform that moves in the Z axis. The bed contains a small UV laser and a polygon mirror ripped from a dead tree laser printer. By moving the bed in the Y direction, [Mario] shoot his laser anywhere on an XY plane. Put a tank filled with UV curing resin on the bed, and he has an SLA printer. Put a mounting bracket on the bed, and double-sided PCBs are a cinch.

The frame is made of 3D printed parts and standard RepRap rods, with the only hard to source component being the polygonal mirror. These can be sourced from scrounged laser printers, but there’s probably some company in China that will sell them bulk. The age of cheap SLA printers is dawning, friends. Video below, github here.

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Servo Stock, The Future Of 3D Printers

printerIf you think about it, the RepRaps and other commercial 3D printers we have today are nothing like the printers that will be found in the workshops of the future. They’re more expensive than they need to be, and despite the RepRap project being around for a few years now, no one has cracked the nut of closed loop control yet. [mad hephaestus], [Alex], and [Will] over on the Hackaday Projects site are working on the future of 3D printing with the Servo Stock, a delta printer using servos and closed loop control to build a printer for about a quarter of the price as a traditional 3D printer.

The printer itself is a Kossel derivative that is highly modified to show off some interesting tech. Instead of steppers, the printer has three axes controlled by servos. On each axis is a small board containing a magnetic encoder, and a continuous rotation servo. With this setup, the guys are able to get 4096 steps per revolution with closed loop control that can drive the servo to with ±2 ticks.

The electronics and firmware are a clean sheet redesign of the usual 3D printer loadout. The motherboard uses a Pic32 running at 80MHz. Even the communication between the host and printer has been completely redesigned. Instead of Gcode, the team is using the Bowler protocol, a system of sending packets over serial, TCP/IP, or just about any other communications protocol you can think of.

Below is a video of the ServoStock interpreting Gcode on a computer and sending the codes and kinematics to the printer. It seems to work well, and using cheap servos and cut down electronics means this project might just be the first to break the $200 barrier for a ready to run 3D printer.

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