ERRF 22: Baby Belt Promises Infinite Z For Under $200

Hackaday has been reporting on belt printers for around a decade now, since MakerBot released (and then quickly pulled) an automated build platform for their very first Cupcake printer. Turns out that not only has the concept been difficult to pull off from a technical perspective, but a murky patent situation made it tricky for anyone who wanted to bring their own versions to market. For a long time they seemed like the fusion reactors of desktop 3D printing — a technology that remains perennially just outside of our grasp.

But finally, things have changed. The software has matured, and there are now several commercial belt printers on the market. The trick now, as it once was for traditional desktop 3D printing, is to bring the costs down. Enter the Baby Belt, created by [Rob Mink]. This open-source belt printer relies on light-duty components and a largely 3D printed structure to get the price point down, though some will find its diminutive dimensions a bit too limiting…even if one of its axes is technically infinite.

If you’ve already got a printer and filament to burn, [Rob] is selling the part kit for just $130 USD. But even if you opt for the full ready-to-build kit, it will only set you back $180. Considering even the cheapest belt printers on the market now have a sticker price of more than $500, that’s an impressive accomplishment.

Of course, it’s hard to compare the Baby Belt with anything else on the market. For one thing, save for a few metal rods, its frame is made almost entirely from 3D-printed parts. Rather than the NEMA 17 stepper motors that are standard on even the cheapest of traditional desktop 3D printers, this little fellow is running on the dinky 28BYJ-48 steppers that you’d expect to find in a cheap toy. Then again, considering the printer only offers 85 x 86 mm in the X and Y axis, the structure and motors don’t exactly need to be top of the line.

What really sets this machine apart is the belt — while we’ve seen other makers go all out with their belt material, [Rob] has come up with an impressively low-tech solution. It’s a simple stack-up of construction paper, carpet tape, and fabric that you could probably put together with what you’ve got laying around the house right now.

Between that outer cloth layer and the printed frame, the Baby Belt offers a lot of room for customization, something which was on clear display at the 2022 East Coast RepRap Festival. The machines dotted several tables on the show floor, and you could tell their builders had a lot of fun making each one their own

Continue reading “ERRF 22: Baby Belt Promises Infinite Z For Under $200”

Infinite Axis Printing On The Ender 3

It’s taken years to perfect them, but desktop 3D printers that uses a conveyor belt instead of a traditional build plate to provide a theoretically infinite build volume are now finally on the market. Unfortunately, they command a considerable premium. Even the offering from Creality, a company known best for their budget printers, costs $1,000 USD.

But if you’re willing to put in the effort, [Adam Fasnacht] thinks he might have the solution. His open source modification for the Ender 3 Pro turns the affordable printer into a angular workhorse. We wouldn’t necessarily call it cheap; in addition to the printer’s base price of $240 you’ll need to source $200 to $300 of components, plus the cost of the plastic to print out the 24 components necessary to complete the conversion. But it’s still pretty competitive with what’s on the market. Continue reading “Infinite Axis Printing On The Ender 3”

Conveyor Belt Printer Mod Is Nearly All Printed

[Call Me Swal] wanted to experiment with large 3D prints. So he took a Hornet 3D printer and  designed a lot of 3D parts to convert it into an “infinite” conveyor belt printer. It looks like — as you can see in the video below — that all the parts are 3D printed but you will still need to buy material for the actual belt.

Of course, you may not have a Hornet, but the idea would be applicable to just about any similar printer. You’d have to, of course, adapt or redesign the parts.

Continue reading “Conveyor Belt Printer Mod Is Nearly All Printed”

The 3D Printers, Scanners, And Art Robots Of Maker Faire Rome

How is it possible that a robot can sketch both better and worse than I can at the same time, and yet turn out an incredible work of art? Has 3D-scanning really come so far that a simple camera and motorized jig can have insane resolution? These are the kinds of questions that were running through my mind, and being answered by the creators of these brilliant machines, at Maker Faire Rome.

There was a high concentration of robots creating art and 3D printing on display and the Faire, so I saved the best examples just for this article. But you’ll also find hacks from a few groups of clever students, and hardware that made me realize industrial controllers can be anything but boring. Let’s take a look!

Continue reading “The 3D Printers, Scanners, And Art Robots Of Maker Faire Rome”

Infinite Build Volume With RepRap On Wheels

The average 3D printer is a highly useful tool, great for producing small plastic parts when given enough time. Most projects to build larger 3D printed objects use various techniques to split them into smaller parts which can fit inside the limited build volume of most Cartesian-based printers. However, there’s no reason a printer need sit inside a box, and no reason a printer can’t roam about, either. Hence, we get the RepRap HELIOS on wheels.

[Nicholas Seward] created the HELIOS and entered it into the Hackaday Prize in 2017, using a SCARA arm to build a printer with a large build volume and no moving steppers. One of [Nicholas]’s students then did a test, in which the HELIOS was mounted on an angled motorized cart, giving the printer potentially infinite build volume in one axis.

[Nicholas] expects the current basic setup to be capable of prints 200mm wide, 100mm high, and theoretically infinite length. There’s also potential to enable the device to create large curved parts by allowing the printer to steer itself with independently controlled motors.

There’s more work to be done, particularly to allow the printer to locate itself relative to its work space to avoid dimensional issues on large prints, but the preliminary results are highly impressive. We’ve seen other infinite volume printers, too – like this build using a conveyor belt design. Video after the break.

[Thanks to smerrett79 for the tip!]

Continue reading “Infinite Build Volume With RepRap On Wheels”