Is a LEGO 3D printer by definition self-replicating?

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LEGO parts are plastic. 3D printers make parts out of plastic. So the transitive property tells us that a LEGO 3D printer should be able to recreate itself. This one’s not quite there yet, mostly because it doesn’t use plastic filament as a printing medium. Look close and you’ll probably recognize that extruder as the tip of a hot glue gun. If all else fails you can use the machine as a precision hot glue applicator.

The instructions to make your own version include the design reference and a few ideas for getting the most out of the glue dispenser. For the design phase [Matstermind] used LEGO Digital Designer. It’s basically CAD with the entire library of LEGO parts available as building blocks. from there he assembled the machine which is controlled by an NXT brick. He goes on to link to a few different printing mediums. There’s instructions for using crayons to make colored glue sticks, as well as a method of printing in sugar using the hot glue extruder.

We remember seeing one other LEGO 3D printer. That one didn’t use an extruder either. It placed blocks based on the design to be printed.

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Delta-type 3D printer built using extruded rails

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From concept to completion this delta-style 3D printer (translated) is a sweet build. The quality of the work comes as no surprise. We’re familiar with [Arkadiusz Spiewak’s] craftsmanship from that H-bot type 3D printer we saw from him back in April.

Planning started off with a render of the design using Blender 3D. Not only did this give him a 3D model to use as his building reference, but the animation framework allowed him to test the kinematics of the design. After ordering an extruded rail system and assembling the frame he found the pillars had too much flex to them due to the rails used on the top and bottom. The fix was to mill a top and bottom plate to stiffen things up. After testing out the motors and the extruder head mount he made one final design change. He exported his Blender design as dxf files to cut and weld an aluminum replacement for the extruder mounting platform. As you can see in this video, the preliminary results are looking good!

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SCARA arm 3D printer

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[Quentin Harley] must really have wanted to test his snuff when it comes to mechanical engineering. He’s been hard at work for a couple of years now designing his own SCARA arm 3D printer. That link leads to a recent summary article in which he shows off the build as seen above. It’s not fully functional yet, but he’s at the point where it’s time to develop the driver circuitry and firmware so he’s close. His blog is dedicated to this single project so click around and see what he went through along the journey.

The SCARA arm is seen in blue, using a couple of stepper motors to move the extruder mount along the x and y axes. The bed itself moves along the Z axis via two precision rods with a threaded rod in the center. As you can see, some of the parts are made of wood, and he used PVC for the cross supports between the upper and lower base platforms. But the majority of the build uses 3D printed parts, including the arms, drive gears, and mounting brackets.

[Thanks Peter]

3D printed Christmas cookies

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Here is yet another way to get into the holiday spirit at your local Hackerspace (or at home if you’re happen to have your own 3D printer). [Ralph Holleis] wrote in to show off his 3D printed Christmas cookies. The majority of the info on this project comes from the video embedded after the break. The extruder head he’s using includes a syringe which is filled with what we assume is Spritz Cookie dough. It is squeezed out in a pattern before heading to the oven for baking.

[Ralph] mentioned that he’s using UNFOLD Pastruder as the print head. We looked and couldn’t find that exact design, but it seems like it might be related to this Claystruder head designed by a user named [Unfold]. If you have the exact link to the extruder design seen above please let us know in the comments section.

If you don’t already have this type of head it’s just a matter of printing the mounting brackets and buying a syringe to match. But you’ll also need compressed air and a valve to regulate the flow of dough. It might be easier just to print your own cookie cutters. This is a great project for people who don’t have access to a laser cutter for gingerbread house work.

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Finally, turning plastic pellets into 3D printer filament

Here’s the situation: a kilogram of 3D printer filament costs about $50. A kilogram of plastic pellets costs less than a tenth of that. Does anyone have a solution to this problem?

For years now, the general consensus was making your own 3D printer filament at home was nigh impossible, dealing with temperatures, pressures, and tolerances that home-built machines simply can’t handle. [Bradley] sent in a filament extruder he made because he was disturbed at this current mindset that desktop filament factories have huge technical issues that have yet to be overcome.

[Bradley]’s extruder is based on the Lyman Filament Extruder, a machine that has successfully demonstrated taking plastic pellets, forming them into a filament, and having this filament used in the production of 3D printed parts. [Bradley]’s improvements include a variable-speed motor, a larger hot end, and an automatic timing system to produce set quantities of printer filament.

Of course, since Inventables threw $40,000 at the problem of creating filament at home there were bound to be more than a few successful designs making their way out into the public. When we last covered the developments of home filament manufacturing, the Filabot seemed to be in the lead. Now with [Bradley] (and  [Lyman])’s machines turning out usable filament, it’s only a matter of time before the 40 grand prize is snatched.

Making plastic filament at home

There’s one problem with the popularity of plastic-extruding 3D printers such as the RepRap and Makerbot; since they’ve become so popular, the price of plastic filament has skyrocketed over the past few years. Without a way to produce filament at a hackerspace or home lab, the price of 3D printed objects will remain fairly high. Project Spaghetti hopes to rectify that by building a machine to make plastic filament for 3D printers.

The folks behind Project Spaghetti – a loose amalgamation of makers going under the title of Open Source Printing, LLC – have successfully built a machine that is able to produce short lengths of plastic filament.

Early machines used a plunger to press small pellets of ABS plastic through a heated steel pipe to produce filament. There are a few problems with this approach, especially when the temperature is set to 480F, but the team was able to make a bit of filament with this design.

Although the team is using a piston to force melted plastic out of a nozzle, they do have a screw-drive ‘plan B’ in the works. This design should allow for continuous extrusion for theoretically endless reels of plastic filament, every RepRappers dream and a neat way to win 40 grand. Continue reading “Making plastic filament at home”

Salvaged robot arm makes a big 3d printer

Wow, building a precision 3d printer is amazingly easy if you can get your hands on an industrial-quality robot arm. [Dane] wrote in to tell us about this huge extruder printer made from an ’80s-era SCARA robot arm. It is capable of printing objects as large as 25″x12″x6.5″.

This 190 pound beast was acquired during a lab clean out. It was mechanically intact, but missing all of the control hardware. Building controllers was a bit of a challenge since the it’s designed with servo motors and precision feedback sensors. This is different from modern 3d printers which use stepper motors and no feedback sensors. A working controller was built up one component at a time, with a heated bed added to the mix to help prevent warping with large builds. We love the Frankenstein look of the controller hardware, which was mounted hodge-podge as each new module was brought online.

You can see some printing action in the clip after the break. A Linux box takes a design and spits out control instructions to the hardware.

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