What The Artisan 3-in-1 CNC Offers (If One Has The Table Space)

I never feel like I have enough space in my workshop. The promise of consolidating tools to make the most of limited space drew me to the Snapmaker Artisan, a plus-sized 3-in-1 tool combining 3D printer, laser engraver, and CNC machine.

Smaller than three separate tools, but still big.

Jacks of all trades may be masters of none, but it is also true that a tool does not need to be a master of its functions to be useful. For many jobs, it enough to simply be serviceable. Does a machine like the Artisan offer something useful to a workshop?

Snapmaker was kind enough to send me an Artisan that I have by now spent a fair bit of time with. While I have come to expect the occasional glitch, having access to multiple functions is great for prototyping and desktop manufacturing.

This is especially true when it allows doing a job in-house where one previously had to outsource, or simply go without. This combo machine does have something to offer, as long as one can give it generous table space in return.

What It Is

The Artisan is a large dual-extrusion 3D printer, CNC router, and diode-based laser engraver. To change functions, one physically swaps toolheads and beds. Very thankfully, there are quick-change fixtures for this.

Driving the Artisan is Snapmaker’s software Luban (GitHub respository). Named for the ancient Chinese master craftsman, it is responsible for job setup and control. For laser and CNC work, there are convenient built-in profiles for a variety of paper, plastic, leather, and wood products.

The unit is enclosed, nicely designed, and — while I have come to expect the occasional glitch — serviceable at all three of its functions. The size and stature of the machine warrants some special mention, however.

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This Dual Extrusion System Rocks

Dual extrusion systems for 3D printers have been around for quite a few years, but the additional cost, complexity, and hassle of printing with them have kept them off the workbenches of most hackers. [Jón Schone] from Proper Printing has now thrown his own hat in the ring, with a custom dual extrusion rocker system that can swap extruders without any additional actuators.

The two extruders are mounted on a spring-loaded rocker mechanism, which holds the inactive extruder up and away from the printing surface. Extruders are swapped by moving the carriage to either end of the x-axis, where the v-wheel rolls a ramp and pops the rocker over, putting the new extruder in the center line of the carriage. There are 3 wheels at the top of the carriage, but only two are in contact with the rail at any time. While this system is more complex than simply mounting two extruders side-by-side, it reduces the chances of the inactive nozzle oozing onto the parts or scraping across the surface. The height of each extruder can be adjusted with a screw,  and any horizontal offset between the nozzles is checked with a calibration procedure and corrected in the firmware. See the full video after the break.

[Jón] is offering the design files and modified firmware to perform this mod on your own Ender 3 Pro (though he notes other Creality printers should be compatible), but you’ll still need to source a control board with the additional stepper driver and heater output for the second extruder. This is yet another in a long list of hacks he’s performed on this popular entry-level printer, such as a modification that allows you to fold the machine up and take it on the go.

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Dual Color Extruder With A Single Stepper


Once you have a 3D printer able to build a few objects in a single color, the next logical upgrade is a dual extruder. A dual extruder allows for multiple color prints, and by adding a dissolvable filament, the ability to print object that would otherwise be impossible. Fitting a dual extruder on an existing 3D printer presents a problem: simply by using a second stepper motor, you reduce the print area of your printer significantly. That’s the problem Dglass 3D aims to solve with their extruder. It’s a dual filament extruder that uses only one stepper motor and takes up less space than some other single filament extruders.

This isn’t the first time the guys at Dglass 3D have tried Kickstarting a dual filament extruder; last year we saw a very similar mechanism that used a single stepper motor to feed two filaments. This older model lacked retraction, though, meaning two colored prints would range somewhere between messy, inaccurate, to impossible.

The new extruder uses a servo to ‘latch’ the filament and drive it into the hot end. This means retraction of the filament is possible and from the sample prints with this extruder, the results look pretty good.

Below You’ll see a few video demos of the dual color/retraction extruder printing an object in black and white filaments at the same time. It’s very cool, and with the addition of a dissolvable filament means very complex objects can be printed very easily.

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