A Teeny 3D-Printed Printing Press, Thanks Gutenberg

The printing press was first invented in 1440 AD by Johannes Gutenberg. It’s not so relevant to our day to day lives today, but it’s a technology that forever changed the path of human history. Now you can whip one up yourself using this teeny design from the [3DPrintingEnthusiast]!

Don’t expect to be making broadsheets with this thing—it’s a strictly table-top sized unit made on a 3D printer. Still, it does the job! The bed, frame, paper holder, and clamps are all 3D-printed. However, you will need some minor additional supplies to complete the carriage and inkballs.

As for your printing plates, you could go out and source some ancient lead type—or you could just 3D print some instead. The latter is probably easier if you’re living in 2024 like yours truly. Who knows, though. 2028 could be a banner year where printing presses roar back to prominence. Try not to think about the global scale disasters that would make that a reality.

In any case, there’s got to be some kind of irony about 3D-printing a printing press on a 3D printer? Perhaps, perhaps not. Debate it below!

Automating 3D Printer Support Hardware

While 3D printers have evolved over the past two decades from novelties to powerful prototyping tools, the amount of support systems have advanced tremendously as well. From rudimentary software that required extensive manual input and offered limited design capabilities, there’s now user-friendly interfaces with more features than you could shake a stick at. Hardware support has become refined as well with plenty of options including lighting, ventilation, filament recycling, and tool changers. It’s possible to automate some of these subsystems as well like [Caelestis Workshop] has done with this relay control box.

This build specifically focuses on automating or remotely controlling the power, enclosure lighting, and the ventilation system of [Caelestis Workshop]’s 3D printer but was specifically designed to be scalable and support adding other features quickly. A large power supply is housed inside of a 3D printed enclosure along with a Raspberry Pi. The Pi controls four relays which are used to control these various pieces hardware along with the 3D printer. That’s not the only thing the Pi is responsible for, though. It’s also configured to run Octoprint, a piece of open-source software that adds web interfaces for 3D printers and allows their operation to be monitored and controlled remotely too.

With this setup properly configured, [Caelestis Workshop] can access their printer from essentially any PC, monitor their prints, and ensure that ventilation is running. Streamlining the print process is key to reducing the frustration of any 3D printer setup, and this build will go a long way to achieving a more stress-free environment. In case you missed it, we recently hosed a FLOSS Weekly episode talking about Octoprint itself which is worth a listen especially if you haven’t tried this piece of software out yet.

Building An 8-Color Automated Filament Changer

Multi-filament printing can really open up possibilities for your prints, even more so the more filaments you have. Enter the 8-Track from [Armored_Turtle], which will swap between 8 filaments for you!

The system is modular, with each spool of filament installed in a drybox with its own filament feeder .The dryboxes connect to the 8-Track changer via pogo pins for communication and power. While [Armored_Turtle] is currently using the device on a Voron printer, he’s designed it so that it can be easily modified to suit other printers. As it’s modular, it’s also not locked into running 8 filaments. Redesigning it to use more or less is easy enough thanks to its modular design.

The design hasn’t been publicly released yet, but [Armored_Turtle] states they hope to put it on Github when it’s ready. It’s early days, but we love the chunky design of those actively-heated drybox filament cassettes. They’re a great step up from just keeping filament hanging on a rod, and they ought to improve print performance in addition to enabling multi-filament switching.

We’ve seen some other neat work in this space before, too. Video after the break.

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3D Printed Braille Trainer Reduces Barrier To Entry

Accessibility devices are a wonder of modern technology, allowing people with various needs to interact more easily with the world. From prosthetics to devices to augment or aid someone’s vision or hearing, devices like these can open up many more opportunities than would otherwise exist. A major problem with a wide array of these tools is that they can cost a fortune. [3D Printy] hoped to bring the cost down for Braille trainers which can often cost around $1000.

Braille trainers consist of a set of characters, each with six pins or buttons that can be depressed to form the various symbols used in the Braille system. [3D Printy]’s version originally included six buttons, each with a set of springs, that would be able to pop up and down. After some work and real-world use, though, he found that his device was too cumbersome to be effective and redesigned the entire mechanism around flexible TPU filament, allowing him to ditch the springs in favor of indentations and buttons that snap into place without a dedicated spring mechanism.

The new design is modular, allowing many units to be connected to form longer trainers than just a single character. He’s also released his design under the Creative Commons public domain license, allowing anyone to make and distribute these tools as they see fit. The design also achieves his goal of dramatically reducing the price of these tools to essentially just the cost of filament, provided you have access to a 3D printer of some sort. If you need to translate some Braille writing and don’t want to take the time to learn this system, take a look at this robotic Braille reader instead.

Thanks to [George] for the tip!

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3D Print A Drill-Powered Helicopter Toy Because It’s Simply Fun

These days, you can get a fully remote-control helicopter that you can fly around your house for about $30. Maybe less. Back in the day, kids had to make do with far simpler toys, like spinning discs that just flew up in the air. [JBV Creative] has built a toy just like that with his 3D printer. It may be simple, but it also looks pretty darn fun.

The design is straightforward. It uses a power drill to spin up a geartrain, which in turn drives a small disc propeller. Spin the propeller fast enough and it’ll launch high into the air. The geartrain mounts to the drill via the chuck, and it interfaces with the propeller with a simple toothed coupler. Alternatively, there’s also a hand-cranked version if you don’t have a power drill to hand.

Launching is easy. First, the drill spins the propeller up to speed. Then, when the drill’s trigger is released, it slows down, and the propeller spins free of the toothed coupler, with the lift it generates carrying it into the sky.

Files are available online for those interested. We could imagine this toy could make the basis for a great design competition. Students could compete to optimise the design with more effective gear ratios or better airfoils. We’ve seen similar designs before, too. Video after the break.

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μRepRap: Taking RepRap Down To Micrometer-Level Manufacturing

When the RepRap project was started in 2005 by [Dr Adrian Bowyer], the goal was to develop low-cost 3D printers, capable of printing most of their own components. The project slipped into a bit of a lull by 2016 due to the market being increasingly flooded with affordable FDM printers from a growing assortment of manufacturers. Now it seems that the RepRap project may have found a new impetus, in the form of sub-millimeter level fabrication system called the μRepRap as announced by [Vik Olliver] on the RepRap project blog, with accompanying project page.

The basic technology is based around the OpenFlexure project’s Delta Stage, which allows for very precise positioning of an imaging element, or conceivably a fabrication tool. As a first step, [Vik] upgrade the original delta stage to a much reinforced one that can accept larger NEMA17 stepper motors. This also allows for standard 3D printer electronics to control the system much like an FDM printer, only at much smaller scales and with new types of materials. The current prototype [Vik] made has a claimed step accuracy of 3 µm, with a range of tools and deposition materials being considered, including photosensitive resins.

It should be noted here that although this is a project in its infancy, it has solid foundations due to projects like OpenFlexure. Will μRepRap kickstart micrometer-level manufacturing like FDM 3D printing before? As an R&D project it doesn’t come with guarantees, but color us excited.

Thanks to [Tequin] for the tip.

EasyThreed K9: The Value In A €72 AliExpress FDM 3D Printer

The hot end of the EasyThreed K9 is actually pretty nifty. (Credit: [Thomas Sanladerer])
The hot end of the EasyThreed K9 is actually pretty nifty. (Credit: [Thomas Sanladerer])
Recently, [Thomas Sanladerer] bought an EasyThreed K9 off AliExpress for a mere €72, netting him an FDM printer with a 10 x 10 x 10 cm build volume. The build plate is unheated, with optional upgrade, and there is no display to interact with the device: just a big multi-function ‘play’ button and five smaller buttons that direct the print head to preset locations above the build plate to allow for build plate leveling using the knobs on each corner. There’s also a ‘home’ button on the back for homing the print head, which pretty much completes the user interface. As the printer comes in a rather small box, the first step is to assemble the parts into something resembling a 3D printer.

What follows is both a mixture of wonder and horror, as the plastic build quality is everything but convincing, while at the same time, the self-contained nature of each of the three axes of the cantilevered design makes for very easy assembly. The print head has a nifty flip-up cover for easy access to the hot end, which makes the best of the anemic 24-watt power supply for the entire printer. A cooling fan with an air duct even provides part cooling, making this print head a contender for the ‘cheap but not terrible’ category. You can check out his full video review below.

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