Automatic Tool Changing On A 3D Printer


[Luis] has a pretty interesting project on his hands. He’s using a delta 3D printer to plate a few edibles – yogurt, chocolate, and other thick liquids. Because he intends to use actual plates as the build surface, calibration is key. One solution to this problem would be to use identical, pre-measured plates for everything this printer makes. [Luis]’ solution is much more ingenious than that, however. He’s programmed his printer to automatically swap out two tools – one for probing the build surface, and another to extrude liquids.

The two tools are suspended from the body of the printer, and with a little bit of software it’s possible for them to be picked up by the head of the printer and held in place with a few magnets. After auto leveling the build surface in software, a G Code command switches the tools over to a paste extruder for all those delicious edibles.

If an automated tool changer isn’t enough, [Luis] has also completed a very nice 3D printed peristaltic pump to squirt out foodstuffs. You can check out a video of this printer in action below.



9 thoughts on “Automatic Tool Changing On A 3D Printer

  1. Seriously cool system!
    Instead of using long, trailing wires to communicate with the heads… could you theoretically use some sort of “bus” built into the delta arms?
    That cable in the first video almost looked like it was going to snag the right most rail.

    And I guess you can’t really use elastic phone cords in case they pull the magnets apart…

    Did a quick search on his tumblr. Couldn’t find anything about upgrading the nozzle holder. Wouldn’t the magnets slide around and make it lose precision?

    1. You’d be surprised how good these magnets can be. I replaced the mechanical linkage on my Rostock Max with the magnetic arm mounts designed by xnaron, and my accuracy improved visibly. This is a genius hack that I hope to implement very soon. The bed leveling alone is worth it. Without, I spend 20-30 minutes every week or so tuning the bed level just right. Add the possibility of different extruder types, and it could print a shot glass then fill it with booze! If that’s not the reason for 3d printing then I don’t know what is.

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