tirsdag den 29. juli 2014

Sourcing materials and electronics

I love making stuff, so I decided to a 3D printer would be a sweet gadget to have available. There are a lot of choices and models which can be built from scratch or purchased as kits. Ever since the original RepRap Mendel I've been wanting to build one. I started building one when the Prusa was released. I cast the vertices out of aluminium as shown in this YouTube video.

While cool and all, the precision was poor, since the holes required placement of rods made of plaster of Paris. Slight misalignment meant that these holes changed the degree at which the threaded rods for the Prusa frame was aligned, and the end result ended up subpar.

I bought five NEMA17 stepper motors intended to run the XYZ axis as well as the extrusion of plasitc filament. These were bought from ZappAutomation as a part of a large order (~100) that I opted in on. Total cost 500DKK (~€67).

I abandoned the idea for a while due to lack of motivation, but still wanting to build a printer I had the idea in the back of my head.

I was in Beijing for an internship for half a year so I decided to give TaoBao.com a try. The prices are a steal, since most of the items are sold close to wholesale price. Taobao requires Chinese internet bank, and being a Danish citizen I couldn't buy from there. Fortunately I got help from my Chinese girlfriend and accessed the Chinese eBay of goodness. I bought a 6 mm acrylic frame, MK3 hotbed (although it says MK2a not sure why), with bowden PTFE tube as well as 12V 40W cartridge heater, GT2 pulleys and belt and a MK7 extruder pulley. I also bought an electronics package including Arduino Mega 2560, Ramps 1.4, 5 stepper drivers and an LCD controller with built in SD card slot. All in all I spent around 700RMB (~84€).

I bought a E3D v5 all metal hot end, a type of hotend without PEEK engineered by a couple of guys in England. Quality wise I'm hoping it will perform better than standard J-heads.

M5, M8 and M10 threaded rod was acquired from the hardware store purchased in a bundle.
8mm stainless steel nuts and washers were purchased on eBay. 30mm cooling fan, endstop switches and 5mm/5mm flexible Z-couplings were also purchased on eBay.

3D printed plastic parts are needed. As of now I plan to 3D print them in Labitat, a hacker space in Copenhagen. Some of the pieces I have decided to make by conventional methods, simply because I feel like they would be more aesthetically pleasing.
The y-axis consist of a rectangle of threaded and smooth rods fixed on corner pieces. I decided to machine the four corner pieces out of aluminium and drill and tap holes to accept 8mm smooth rod held in by a grub screw. On the original design M10 rod protrudes the front, however this being aluminium I drilled tapped the two front corner pieces 15mm in to accept M10. The result being the front looking nicer, and saving two bolts and washers (as if it matters :D).

All in all I'm pretty optimistic and hope to continue working on the project as much as possible. While I did research what problems people run into when building the printers, I don't think there's any way I can know for sure what obstacles will be without trying. So here's to a trouble-free build!

- nicolaj ma

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