The underside of the rotational base of the Gen5X 3D printer. A belt connects a pulley on the bottom of the stage to a stepper motor on the right side. The carriage for the stage looks organic in nature and is printed in bright orange PLA. The stage can rotate within the carriage which is mounted on two stainless steel rods connected to teal mounting points on either side of the printer (ends of the X-axis).

5-Axis Printer Wants To Design Itself

RepRap 3D printers were designed with the ultimate goal of self-replicating machines. The generatively-designed Gen5X printer by [Ric Real] brings the design step of that process closer to reality.

While 5-axis printing is old hat in CNC land, it remains relatively rare in the world of additive manufacturing. Starting with “a set of primitives… and geometric relationships,” [Real] ran the system through multiple generations to arrive at its current design. Since this is a generative design, future variants could look different depending on which parameters you have the computer optimize.

The Gen5X uses the 5 Axis Slicer from DotX for slicing files and runs a RepRap Duet board with Duex expansion. Since the generative algorithm uses parametric inputs, it should be possible to to have a Gen5X generated based on the vitamins you may have already. With how fast AI is evolving, perhaps soon this printer will be able to completely design itself? For now, you’ll have to download the files and try it yourself.

If you want to see some more printers with more than 3-axes, check out the RotBot or Open5X.

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Dremel 3D20 Printer Gets Modern Overhaul

Dremel’s attempt at breaking into the 3D printer market back in 2014 was respectable, if not particularly exciting. Rather than design their own printer, their 3D20 “Idea Builder” was a lightly customized Flashforge Dreamer (itself a Makerbot Replicator clone) with a new warranty and support contract tacked on. It wasn’t necessarily the 3D printer of choice for the hacker and maker crowd, but it was a fairly solid option for folks who wanted a turn-key experience.

[Chris Chimienti] says he got about 1,000 hours of printing out of his 3D20 before it gave up the ghost. Given the age of the machine and its inherent limitations, he decided to use the Dremel’s carcass as the base for a very impressive custom 3D printer with all the modern bells and whistles. He kept the enclosure, rods, bearings, and the stepper motors, but pretty much everything else was tossed out. Some of the replacements are off-the-shelf parts, but it’s the custom designed elements on this build that really help set it apart.

A print bed strong enough to park your car on.

Under the machine, [Chris] has installed a new power supply and a Duet 2 WiFi controller which itself is connected to the new LCD control panel on the front. There’s an external case fan to keep the electronics cool, but otherwise things look a lot neater under the hood than they did originally.

Moving upwards, he’s designed a gorgeous adjustable print bed and a new extruder assembly that cleverly uses RJ45 jacks and Ethernet cables to connect back to the control board. All told, the custom components have taken this once relatively mid-range 3D printer and turned it into something that looks like it wouldn’t be out of place on the International Space Station.

While custom 3D printer builds like this still trickle in from time to time, we’re seeing far fewer now than we did back when machines like the 3D20 hit the market. Most people are more than satisfied with commercial entry-level desktop printers, and aren’t looking for yet another project to tinker with. There’s nothing wrong with that, though we certainly wouldn’t complain if the recent interest into more advanced high-temperature filaments triggered something of a bespoke 3D printer renaissance.

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PrintEye Gives You Stats In A Blink

Once upon a time, most things were single-purpose, like the pocket watch. Then somebody made a watch with a date function, and next thing you know, we had TV/VCR combos and Swiss army knives. Now, people pull computers out of their pockets just to check the time or the bed temperature of their RepRap.

[Owen]’s antidote for this multi-function madness is PrintEye, a simple interface that queries his printer and displays its vital signs on a pair of OLED peepers. It’s a parts bin special, and you know how much we love those. PrintEye connects to the Duet controller over UART, and does its firmware whispering with an ATMega328P. The ‘Mega sends a single M-command and gets back all the status and temperature data in JSON format. Then it parses the info and displays it on twin OLED screens.

Want to make one? [Owen]’s got all the files you need over on IO, but offers no hand-holding services. If you’ve never spun a board before, this could be your introduction. Have to have an internet connection? Check out the Octoprint monitor that inspired PrintEye.