The Prints Don’t Stop With This Prusa I3 MK3 Mod

One of the issues with 3D printing is that when a print is done, you need to go back and pull the print off the bed to reset it for the next one. What if you needed to print 600 little parts for whatever reason? Most people might say get lots of printers and queue them up. Not [Pierre Trappe], as he decided that his Prusa i3 MK3S+ would print continuously.

The setup was dubbed Loop and consisted of a few parts. First, there’s an arm that sweeps the build plate to clear the printed pieces, a slide for the pieces to descend on, and a stand for the printer to sit on that puts it at an angle. The next step is to modify OctoPrint to allow a continuous print queue. The slicer needs to change as [Pierre] provides some G-code to reset the printer and clear the print.

We were especially impressed with the attention to detail in the documentation for this one. There’s extensive guidance on getting the bed adhesion just right, as you can’t have it come off mid-print, but you need it to detach cleanly and easily when the arm sweeps across the bed. Calibrating that first layer is essential, and he provides handy instructions to dial it in. Additionally, temperature and material play a crucial role, and [Pierre] documented the different materials and temperatures he used while developing Loop.

While continuous belt printers are arguably the “correct” answer to the question of printing 600 little parts, they come with their own baggage. Being able to pull off something similar on a printer as reliable and well supported as the Prusa i3 makes for a compelling alternative.

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Hacking A Brother Thermal Printer To Use Non-OEM Continuous Rolls

You can get your hands on a Brother thermal label printer for $65-75. But if you don’t want to buy the Brother branded continuous feed paper for it you’re out of luck. Unless you pull off this hack which lets you use any thermal paper you want with a Brother QL-500 printer.

The printer is tied to the OEM paper because of a pattern printed on the back of the roll. It’s basically an encoder strip made up of black rectangles spaced at regular intervals. Surely there are other brands that come with this pattern on them, but if you want to use paper without it the secret is in moving the sensor that reads that strip.

The brilliant solution is to use one of the white feed-gears as an encoder wheel. [CheapSkateVideo] used a magic marker to paint two opposite quarters of the gear black. He then removed the optical sensor and placed it on the side of the case facing the wheel. It needs to be adjusted along the radius of that gear until the timing is just right, but once it is you’re ready to go. The sensor is a safety feature to ensure there is media in the printer. If there’s not you can burn up the print head so keep that in mind. See the explanation in the video after the break.

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Modifying A Servo For Continuous Rotation

[robomaniac] shows us how to modify a standard servo to allow continuous rotation. This is a classic robotics hack and has been around for a while, but we really like the way he put this together. Although you may need some soldering and desoldering tools to open the servo up, the hack is a physical one. All you really need to do is cut off a plastic tab on one of the gears. If you want to see an example of a bot you can build with one of these CR servos, he just posted this one motor walker.