3D Printer Automated Bed Swapping System Loads From A Magazine

FDM 3D printing has gone beyond prototyping and is being used as a production tool by many companies. However, conventional printers still require an operation to pop the finished part of the bed and start a new print. [Thomas Sandladerer] wanted a way to swap beds without human intervention, so he built an automatic print surface changing system.

The most obvious solution to this problem may appear to be belt printers like the Creality CR-30, but these come with some trade-offs. Bed adhesion can be a problem, and the lack of a rigid print surface causes some parts to come out warped. [Thomas] wanted to be able to use PEI-coated steel beds to avoid these issues. His solution is a system that pulls beds from a “magazine” and pushed out the old bed after a part is finished. It still uses a magnetic heatbed, which lowers out of the way before changing print surfaces. Each print surface is fitted inside a 3D printed frame which rests on the tool changer frame and keeps it in place as the heatbed drops down. The bed frames are printed using ASA, can handle 90 C without problems. The pusher mechanism and the heatbed lowering system are driven by stepper motors which connect to the spare motor outputs on the printer’s control board. The printer in question is a Voron 2.4, which is perfect for this application thanks to its high print speed.

This tool-changing system is only the first prototype, but it still worked very well. [Thomas] plans to make key improvements like a larger print bed and reduced height. This system might be a good fit for small and large print farms. We’ve seen another bed-clearing system that doesn’t require extra build surfaces, but instead scrapes off the completed part.

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Better 3D Printing Through Magnets

Just like Goldilocks found some porridge too hot and some too cold, 3D printers often have beds that don’t stick well enough or stick too well. A few weeks ago I switched two of my three printers to use magnetic beds and thought I’d share with you how that worked out. Spoiler alert: like most things it has its plusses and minuses.

It isn’t a secret that 3D printing is not a plug-and-play operation, especially at the price most of us are willing to pay for printers. There are lots of variables to get right: temperature, speeds, bed leveling, and a bunch of other things. However, one of the things that vexes many people is the relationship between getting that first layer to stick and being able to get the print off the bed when you are done. It is hard to find a happy medium. If the first layer won’t stick, you print is doomed. If the first layer sticks too well, you are likely to damage the part or your fingers getting it removed. I switched to BuildTak surfaces long ago,¬†and many people like PEI. But it is sometimes hard to get a big part removed. A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and bought some magnetic build surfaces for two of my printers. These were “no name” inexpensive affairs from Ali Express.

The idea is simple. There are two sheets that look like a rubberized plastic and have magnetic properties. One piece has some 3M adhesive on the back. The other has one surface that resembles BuildTak. Once you glue down the one sheet you leave it alone. Then you put the other sheet on top and print on it. When you are done, you can pull the sheet out and flex it to pop the print off. That’s the theory, anyway. Continue reading “Better 3D Printing Through Magnets”