A Quick and Simple Filament Joiner for Multi-Color Prints

Filament splicer

[Malcolm] was having a grand time with his new 3D printer. He was getting tired of monochromatic prints, though. Not having a machine with multiple extruders, he went looking for a way to join pieces of filament. There were a few designs on Thingiverse, but they required milled parts that he didn’t have the tools to recreate. Rather than invest in a mill, [Malcolm] decided to build his own filament joiner. He started by raiding his wife’s hair care tools. His first test was a curling iron. It had the heat, but lacked a good surface to join the filament. [Malcolm's] next test was a ceramic hair straightener, which he found to be the perfect tool.

The splicing process is simple. Start with a hot iron, then lay two pieces of filament on top of the short end of the iron. They soften quickly and melt together. [Malcolm's] real trick is to slightly pull the joint once the two pieces have joined. Pulling causes the filament to stretch, slightly reducing the diameter of the joint. A thinner joint helps prevent extruder jams as the joint passes through. This method works great for PLA. We’d love to see if it works for ABS as well.

Click past the break for an example piece and for [Malcom's] instructional video.

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RepRap Simpson puts a new spin on delta RepRaps

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in the 3D printer world, something new pops up! [Nicholas Seward] posted a video of RepRap Simpson, his latest project.  Simpson is a delta robot – but unlike any delta we’ve seen before. Previous offerings vertical rails on which the arms travel. As you can see, this design mounts three articulated arms directly to the base of the printer, using steel cables as part of the joint mechanism.

Judging by [Nicholas'] posts on the RepRap forums, Simpson’s grounded delta design has already gone through a few revisions. The basic geometry though, has remained the same. [Nicholas] calls this edition a “Proportional Gear Drive Joint Simpson”. The name may not roll off the tongue, but the movements are incredibly smooth, organic, and fast.

As with any delta design inverse kinematics play a huge role in the software. [Nicholas] is trying to simplify this with an optical calibration system. For the adventurous, the equations are posted on the forums, and a python Gcode preprocessor is posted on Thingiverse.

Even Simpson’s base received special attention.  It’s built from a water jet cut piece of basalt.  We like the use of opposed helical gears on the large joints, as well as the guitar machine heads used to tension the cable drive. One thing we are not sure of is the longevity of system – will cable stretch play an issue? Will the printed parts suffer wear from the cables? Only time will tell.

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3D Printering: Electronics Boards

If you’re gearing up to build a 3D printer, one of the first things you’ll need to look at is your options for electronics boards. Whether you decide to optimize for cost or capability, the choices you make during the planning stages of your build will drastically affect what the final project will look like and how it will behave.

There are a ton of electronics boards out there, so for this installation of 3D Printering, we’re going to take a look at what’s available. Hit the link below to give Hackaday more pageviews read the rest.

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An interview with [David] of Ultimaker

cura

After interviewing the creator of Slic3r and the folks at Shapeways, [Andrew] is back again with his adventures in 3D printer videography and an interview with [David Braam] of Ultimaker

About a year ago, [David] looked at the state of the art in 3D printer control and Replicator G. While Replicator G, along with Pronterface and Repetier-Host both convert 3D models into G-code files as well as control the printer while its squeezing plastic out onto a bed. [David] thought the current state of these RepRap host programs were janky at best, and certainly not the best user experience for any home fabricator. This lead him to create Cura, a very slick and vastly improved piece of host software for the Ultimaker.

Cura isn’t just a fancy front end on an already existing slicer engine; [David] created his own slicing algorithm to turn .STL files into G-code that’s immensely faster than skeinforge. Where skeinforge could take an hour to slice a complex model, Cura does the same job in minutes.

There are also a bunch of cool features available in Cura: you can rotate any part before sending it to the printer, as well as pulling voxels directly from your Minecraft world and sending them to your printer. Very, very cool stuff, and if you’re running a Ultimaker or any other RepRap, you might want to check it out.

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Midwest RepRap Festival

We’re a US-centric site, but aside from events in New York or California, we don’t see many hacker, maker, or 3D printer events aimed at the parts of the country filled with corn and WalMarts. The 1st annual Midwest RepRap Festival aims to change that with enough events, speakers, and activities to make Elkhart, Indiana look like the hoppingist place around.

Officially, the festival started yesterday but the schedule of events really ramps up today. [Josef Prusa] will be taking the stage talking about the state of the RepRap, and a ton of 3d printing vendors will be there showing off their wares and selling some really cool stuff. There’s also tons of experienced RepRappers available to help you tune your machine to perfection; just as well, because the festival is going for the world record for the greatest number of 3D printers printing simultaneously.

If you’re around northern Indiana, you might want to check out the festival and send us a few pics or videos.

An industrial RepRap

rep

It may just be another 3D printer, but [Jonas] and [Simon]‘s Kühling & Kühling RepRap Industrial is a cross between a work of art and a beautiful machine tool. It also looks to be a pretty nice 3D printer, to boot.

The Kühling RepRap is built out of 20mm t-slot aluminum with plastic sides that keep the machine’s internals at a toasty 70° C, just about the optimal temperature for making large, complex prints. The machine has two extruders with all the cables tucked away in 3D printed cable carriers. One really interesting bit of innovation is the tool less belt t tensioning system.

On the list of upcoming features, [Jonas] and [Simon] say they want to add a touch screen controller powered by a Raspberry Pi, and a controller that’s even more capable than RAMPS electronics boards. No word on how much a Kühling & Kühling RepRap will cost, but like any quality-looking tool, we don’t expect it to be cheap.

Midwest RepRap Festival

midwest-reprap-meetup

Midwesterner’s should take note — here’s an event that’s happening somewhere other than New York or California! We jest, of course there are great events in the Midwestern states every year, like the Kanasas City or Detroit Maker Faires. This event puts focus on 3D printing. The Midwest RepRap Festival will be held in Elkhart, Indian March 15-17, 2013. Despite the name, the event is meant to encompass all things involved with any brand, make, or variety of 3D printing.

The owners of a local business called The Royal Phoenix have opened their doors for the weekend. Organizers have arranged for [Josef Prusa] and [Johnny R] to speak. There will also be build events (one session will show the build process of the MendelMax 2.0) so feel free to bring your own equipment for help with construction or getting it dialed in.

There is no registration fee, or tickets. But it would be best if you did fill out the questionnaire so they have some semblance of how many people might be coming.