3D Printer Project: Test Prints

Having had a couple of months fine tuning the printhead, we've been able to dial in the precision and accuracy to a very high degree.  At this point we estimate we're achieving about a 50um resolution with a high degree of repeatability.    Here are some example outputs:

One application area we're investigating is producing micro features and meshes.  To achieve very high resolution we've created a custom gcode generator that directly produces the printer commands using a specific set of geometric criteria.  This has enabled us to produce some very fine meshes: 

Here are some meshes with PCL:

We've also started playing with other types of materials, such as PCL, Ninjaflex, Nylon, and others.  We made a slight modification to the print module to make it easier to print very flexible materials.  So far this has worked fantastically well.  Here's an early print of the Ninjaflex:

More to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on February 27, 2016 and filed under 3D Printers, Projects.

3D Printer Update

It has been quite a while since I updated this Blog.  I've been working diligently on numerous parts of the printer and I've been able to produce some pretty phenomenal results.  So I thought it was time to provide an update.  I'm going to break the update down into multiple parts to provide a more regular update process going forward.

For this first update I'm going to focus on the CNC machining process for the printer parts.  I've learned an enormous amount about fabricating parts in the last 6 months.  I've also collected a variety of new tools - including an arbor press, 5C collet holder, and a high speed drill.  I've also fabricated new workbenches for assembly and testing:

The first thing I started fabricating was new aluminum parts for the X/Y carriage to replace the 3D printed prototypes.  

After running some test prints I started redesigning the printhead for improved modularity and usability.  It is now clear that a good printhead design is 80% of the value of a precision 3D printer.  I'll go through the various iterations of the printhead in the next blog entry, but in the mean time here's some quick previews:

In November I attended the Houston Makerfaire and had a small booth.  It was a very useful to put everything I had together and practice presenting it to others.  I received some great feedback from numerous people and encouragement to keep going. 

As part of that I created a collage video to show various steps in the fabrication process:

More to come!

 

 

 

 

Posted on January 29, 2016 and filed under 3D Printers, CNC Machining, Projects.

3D Printer Project: Final Assembly & Initial Testing

The last few days I've been going through the last remaining tasks to get the printer running.  First and foremost I finished the wiring.  Because of the dual extruders the number of wires has grown considerably.  The wiring didn't turn out quite as neatly as I'd hoped, but for now it will work.  I've already planned out the cable management for version 2 and it's considerably better than this.

I also built some quick hangers to mount the filament spools on the side.  I plan on replacing these with better versions that have bearings in the near future:

Finally I fabricated a fan shroud to direct air at the hotends correctly.  My initial design for the fan ducts blocked too much of the airflow, so redesigned them to have round openings and pathways.

After testing out various subsystems I was ready to run my first calibration test:

And here's literally the first thing that came out of the machine:

As you can tell from the final part I still have some additional calibration work to do. The extrusion rate, temperatures and z axis all need further calibration.  However I feel this is pretty good first test.

 

 

 

 

Posted on May 6, 2015 and filed under Projects, CNC Machining, 3D Printers.