A High Speed, Infinite Volume 3D Printer

One of the most interesting developments in 3D printing in recent memory is the infinite build volume printer. Instead of a static bed, this type of printer uses a conveyor belt and a hotend set at an angle to produce parts that can be infinitely long in one axis, provided you have the plastic and electricity. For this year’s Hackaday Prize, [inven2main] is exploring the infinite build volume design, but putting a new spin on it. This is a printer with a conveyor belt and a SCARA arm. The goal of this project is to build a printer with a small footprint, huge build volume, no expensive rails or frames, and a low part count. It is the most capable 3D printer you can imagine using a minimal amount of parts.

Most of the documentation for this build is hanging around on the RepRap forums, but the bulk of the work is already done. The first half of this build — the SCARA arm — is well-traveled territory for the RepRap community, and where there’s some fancy math and kinematics going on, there’s nothing too far out of the ordinary. The real trick here is combining a SCARA arm with a conveyor belt to give the project an infinite build volume. The proof of concept works, using a conveyor belt manufactured out of blue painter’s tape. These conveyor belt printers are new, and the bed technology isn’t quite there, but improvements are sure to come. Improvements will also be found in putting a small crown on the rollers to keep the belt centered.

All the files for this printer are available on the Gits, and there are already a few videos of this printer working. You can check those out here.

Hackaday Links: February 18, 2018

Hacker uses pineapple on unencrypted WiFi. The results are shocking! Film at 11.

Right on, we’ve got some 3D printing cons coming up. The first is MRRF, the Midwest RepRap Festival. It’s in Goshen, Indiana, March 23-25th. It’s a hoot. Just check out all the coverage we’ve done from MRRF over the years. Go to MRRF.

We got news this was going to happen last year, and now we finally have dates and a location. The East Coast RepRap Fest is happening June 22-24th in Bel Air, Maryland. What’s the East Coast RepRap Fest? Nobody knows; this is the first time it’s happening, and it’s not being produced by SeeMeCNC, the guys behind MRRF. There’s going to be a 3D printed Pinewood Derby, though, so that’s cool.

జ్ఞ‌ా. What the hell, Apple?

Defcon’s going to China. The CFP is open, and we have dates: May 11-13th in Beijing. Among the things that may be said: “Hello Chinese customs official. What is the purpose for my visit? Why, I’m here for a hacker convention. I’m a hacker.”

Intel hit with lawsuits over security flaws. Reuters reports Intel shareholders and customers had filed 32 class action lawsuits against the company because of Spectre and Meltdown bugs. Are we surprised by this? No, but here’s what’s interesting: the patches for Spectre and Meltdown cause a noticeable and quantifiable slowdown on systems. Electricity costs money, and companies (server farms, etc) can therefore put a precise dollar amount on what the Spectre and Meltdown patches cost them. Two of the lawsuits allege Intel and its officers violated securities laws by making statements or products that were false. There’s also the issue of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich selling shares after he knew about Meltdown, but before the details were made public. Luckily for Krzanich, the rule of law does not apply to the wealthy.

What does the Apollo Guidance Computer look like? If you think it has a bunch of glowey numbers and buttons, you’re wrong; that’s the DSKY — the user I/O device. The real AGC is basically just two 19″ racks. Still, the DSKY is very cool and a while back, we posted something about a DIY DSKY. Sure, it’s just 7-segment LEDs, but whatever. Now this project is a Kickstarter campaign. Seventy bucks gives you the STLs for the 3D printed parts, BOM, and a PCB. $250 is the base for the barebones kit.

3D Print A 3D Printer Frame

It is over a decade since the RepRap project was begun, originally to deliver 3D printers that could replicate themselves, in other words ones that could print the parts required to make a new printer identical to themselves. And we’re used to seeing printers of multiple different designs still constructed to some extent on this principle.

The problem with these printers from a purist replicating perspective though is that there are always frame parts that must be made using other materials rather than through the 3D printer. Their frames have been variously threaded rod, lasercut sheet, or aluminium extrusion, leaving only the fittings to be printed. Thus [Chip Jones]’ Thingiverse post of an entirely 3D printed printer frame using a 3D printed copy of aluminium extrusion raises the interesting prospect of a printer with a much greater self-replicating capability. It uses the parts from an Anet A8 clone of a Prusa i3, upon which it will be interesting to see whether the 3D printed frame lends the required rigidity.

There is a question as to whether an inexpensive clone printer makes for the most promising collection of mechanical parts upon which to start, but we look forward to seeing this frame and its further derivatives in the wild. Meanwhile this is not the most self-replicating printer we’ve featured, that one we covered in 2015.

Thanks [MarkF] for the tip.

Hackaday Prize Entry: RepRap Helios

Did you know that most of the current advances in desktop consumer 3D printing can be traced back to a rather unknown project started in 2005? This little-known RepRap project was dedicated to building Open Source hardware that was self-replicating by design. Before the great mindless consumerization of 3D printing began, the RepRap project was the greatest hope for Open Source hardware, and a sea change in what manufacturing could be.

While the RepRap project still lives on in companies like Lulzbot, Prusa, SeeMeCNC, and others, the vast community dedicated to creating Open Hardware for desktop manufacturing has somehow morphed into YouTube channels that feature 3D printed lions, 3D printed Pokemon, and a distinct lack of 3D printed combs. Still, though, there are people out there contributing to the effort.

[Nick Seward] is famous in the world of RepRap. He designed the RepRap GUS Simpson, an experimental 3D printer that is able to print all of its components inside its own build volume. The related LISA Simpson is an elegant machine that is unlike any other delta robot we’ve seen. He’s experimented with Core XZ machines for years now — a design that is only now appearing on AliBaba from random Chinese manufacturers. In short, [Nick Seward] is one of the greats of the RepRap project.

[Nick] is designing a new kind of RepRap, and he’s entered it in the Hackaday Prize. It can print most of its own component parts, it has an enormous build volume, and it’s unlike any 3D printer you’ve seen before. It’s a SCARA — not a, ‘robotic arm’ because SCARA is an acronym for Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm — that puts all the motors in the non-moving portion of the base. Its design is inspired by the RepRap Morgan, a printer whose designer won $20,000 in the GADA prize for being mostly self-replicating.

Improvements over the RepRap Morgan include a huge build volume (at least three 200x200mm squares can be placed in this printer’s build volume), a relatively fast print speed, high accuracy and precision, and auto bed leveling. Despite being more capable than some RepRap printers in some areas, the RepRap Helios should wind up being cheaper than most RepRap printers. It can also print most of its component parts, bringing us ever closer to a truly self-replicating machine.

You can check out a few of the videos of this printer in action below.

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Laser Cutting a 3D Printer

The concept of self-replicating 3D printers is a really powerful one. But in practice, there are issues with the availability and quality of the 3D-printed parts. [Noyan] is taking a different approach by boostrapping a 3D printer with laser-cut parts. There are zero 3D-printed parts in this project. [Noyan] is using acrylic for the frame and the connecting mechanisms that go into the machine.

The printer design chosen for the project is the Prusa i3. We have certainly seen custom builds of this popular design before using laser-cut plywood for the frame. Still, these builds use 3D-printed parts for some of the more complicated parts like the extruder carriage and motor brackets. To the right is the X-carriage mechanism. It is complicated but requires no more than 6 mm and 3 mm acrylic stock and the type of hardware traditionally associated with printer builds.

With the proof of concept done, a few upgrades were designed and printed to take the place of the X-axis parts and the belt tensioner. But hey, who doesn’t get their hands on a 3D printer and immediately look for printable solutions for better performance?

We first saw a laser-cut RepRap almost nine years ago! That kit was going to run you an estimated $380. [Noyan] prices this one out at under $200 (if you know someone with a laser cutter), and of course you can get a consumer 3D printer at that price point now. Time has been good to this tool.

The Tiny 3D Printers Of Maker Faire

Building a big 3D printer has its own challenges. The strength of materials does not scale linearly, of course, and long axes have a tendency to wobble. That said, building a bigbot isn’t hard – stepper motors and aluminum extrusion are made for industry, and you can always get a larger beam or a more powerful motor. [James] is going in the opposite direction. He’s building tiny, half-scale printers. They’re small, they’re adorable, and they have design challenges all their own.

At this year’s New York Maker Faire, [James] is showing off his continuing project of building baby 3D printers. He has a half-scale wooden Printrbot, a half-ish scale Mendel Max, a tiny Makerbot Replicator, and a baby delta and baby Ultimaker in the works.

Click past the break for a gallery, and more info on [James’s] tiny creations.

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3D Printering: Trinamic TMC2130 Stepper Motor Drivers

Adjust the phase current, crank up the microstepping, and forget about it — that’s what most people want out of a stepper motor driver IC. Although they power most of our CNC machines and 3D printers, as monolithic solutions to “make it spin”, we don’t often pay much attention to them.

In this article, I’ll be looking at the Trinamic TMC2130 stepper motor driver, one that comes with more bells and whistles than you might ever need. On the one hand, this driver can be configured through its SPI interface to suit virtually any application that employs a stepper motor. On the other hand, you can also write directly to the coil current registers and expand the scope of applicability far beyond motors.

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