Re-imagining The Crossed Gantry 3D Printer

Simply having a few go-to 3D printer motion system designs is no reason to stop exploring them, as even small iterations on an existing architecture can yield some tremendous improvements. In the last few months, both [Annex_Engineering] and [wesc23] have been piloting a rail-derived crossed gantry architecture, a “CroXY” as it’s come to be known. Borrowing concepts from Ultimaker’s crossed gantry using rods, the Hypercube Overkill project, and perhaps even each other, the results are two compact machine frames capable of beautiful prints at extremely high speeds–upwards of 400 mm/sec in [Annex_Engineering’s] case!

Both gantry designs take a rotated MGN12 rail (a la the Railcore) and cross two of them, mounting the carriage at the intersection point much like an Ultimaker. Each crossed rail controls a degree of freedom with vanilla Cartesian kinematics, but each degree of freedom also has a redundant motor for added torque. Like the CoreXY design, this setup is tailored for clean prints at high speeds since the motion-related motors have been removed from the moving mass. However the overall belt length has been reduced tremendously, resulting in a much stiffer setup.

But the innovation doesn’t stop there. Both gantries also feature a unique take on a removable Z probe. When the machine needs to level the bed, it travels to a corner to “quickdraw” a magnetically attached limit switch from a holster. Once mounted, this probe becomes the lowest point on the carriage, allowing the carriage to travel around the bed probing points. When finished, the probe simply slots back into its holster, and the print can begin.

Both [wesc23’s] CroXY and a variant of [Annex_Engineering’s] K2 are up on Github complete with bills of materials if you’re curious to poke into the finer details. With commercial 3D printer manufacturers spending the last few years in a race to the bottom, it’s exciting to still see new design pattern contributions that push for quality and performance. For more design patterns contributions, have a look at [Mark Rehorst’s] Kinematically coupled bed design.

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