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Author Topic: Raxx's 3D Printer Project  (Read 9462 times)

Raxx

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Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« on: December 05, 2011, 09:46:09 pm »


Chronicles of a Replicating Rapid Prototyper
Mendel Prusa Model

Say wha...?
For the longest time now I've been wanting to own a 3D printer. Imagine all the cool things you could do with it! You could make parts for robotics, action figures, toys, miniatures, rapid prototyping of inventions, props, or even parts to fix household items. For me, the biggest attraction is to finally be able to make real-life versions of some of my organic models. And who wouldn't want the Anim8or Robin sitting on their computer desk?

This forum topic is being updated to document my 3D printer project should any of you have an interest in this kind of thing.

The Printer
Here enters RepRap. A Replicating Rapid Prototyper qualifies as such if it's capable of making parts to make another 3D printer (self replicating). Naturally, however, since today's RepRap machines can only print using plastic filament as its material, there are a lot of components that have to be bought, or fabricated using different technology. However, the idea is there and there are people working to make it more and more RepRap-Worthy.

I won't bore you with the history of it all. Just visit Wikipedia and RepRap.org for more info.

It's a DIY project that involves printed parts, hardware you can find at hardware stores, and some electronics commonly used in robotics and prototyping. The resolution is probably around 0.5mm in terms of detail, which isn't quite as high res as what the expensive printers can print, but any resulting lumpiness on contours can be fixed with a little bit of sanding, puttying, priming, and/or painting.

So you'd think making this would cost a lot less, right? Well, yes. However, it's still expensive. I'll be detailing the entire costs of my project further down, though this cost will not reflect most other DIY'er as there are a lot of extras and variations in the mix.

The $$$
Like I said, it's expensive. If it would have costed only $500 to build, I'd have been all over it yester-year. If it costed $800 and came pre-assembled, I'd have been a bit more keen to get it; but even if it were, these things are typically made by do-it-yourself'ers, and you don't know where the parts came from or what to look for if something's not right.

My only option was to build it myself. However, it'd still cost me upwards around $700 just for the components, never mind all the new tools (toys) I'd have to buy and learn how to use. A new soldering station, precision tool set, calipers, airbrush system, etc. All things I've never used before, except a soldering tool when I made a few xbox controller mods and did some laptop repair.

Then you need the space to build it all. Guess what? In two weeks I'm moving to a small apartment lacking that important trait :-\

The Motivation
So what pushed me to finally make the dive? Well, first there was shapeways.com and other 3D printing services. I've been toying with the idea for a few years now to print some components to make some nice Christmas gifts. However, when I decided to give it a go this year, I discovered that it'd cost about $140-$200 per gift that I wanted to print components for, had I used shapeways.com. That's crazy!

So I backtracked to the RepRap phenomenon I had discovered a few months back. Since I already decided to make the gifts I wanted to make, and I also had an anime convention (don't judge me, I have my small comforts) coming up that would be cool to make props for using a 3D printer.

Seeing that there was a large following behind the project, plenty of documentation, and a ton of recent activity and development behind it, I decided that now was the best time to get involved. Hence, this project.



The Project

The ultimate goal of this project is to create five functional, dynamic (has moving parts) music boxes, each customized to a member of my immediate family and fully painted, all before Christmas! Therefore this project encompasses more than just a 3D printer, and will entail lots of late night rushes to get things done.

The project can be split into these categories:
1. Planning and Purchase of Supplies (90% complete)
2. Building and calibrating the 3D Printer (0% complete)
3. Designing and modeling the music boxes (0% complete)
4. Successfully printing the components (0% complete)
5. Airbrushing on details (0% complete)
6. Assembling the music boxes (0% complete)
7. Gift-wrapping and go! (0% complete)

Major obstacles:
1. Never worked on electrical voodoo like this before
2. Never used a real-life airbrush system
3. Have final exams this week and next week
4. Moving to an apartment the week before Christmas

The obstacles will be mitigated by my genius, naturally ;)
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 03:02:11 am by Raxx »
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2011, 09:46:29 pm »

Dev Log

12/09/2011
 - Frame is approximately 80% complete now
 - Purchased Borosilicate glass bed at lulzbot ($25)
12/08/2011
 - Started building frame of printer, about 50% complete
 - Purchased Soldering accessories, Wires, XLR connectors, resistor, terminals, DC switch at Radioshack ($63.59)
 - Purchased adjustable wrench, electric tape, and Loctite sealant at Lowe's ($10.61)
12/06/2011
 - Purchased clock power springs just in case there's not enough torque in the music boxes.($11.50)
 - Unboxed the Linear Bearing Prusa kit and smooth metal rods package
 - Purchased 400w power supply and spirit level from amazon.com ($20.23)
 - Updated Bill of Materials with more info
 - Updated the journal
12/05/2011
 - Purchased hobbed bolt from lulzbot.com ($12.45 - I couldn't hob my own bolt, hah!)
 - Purchased 1kg each of PLA and ABS 1.75mm filament, and one 20mm roll of Polyimide tape from protoparadigm.com ($102.91)
 - Purchased a dozen 4 oz bottles of airbrush paint from dickblick.com ($57.75)
 - Purchased solder station, airbrush system, cleaning station, and cleaner, wire stripper/crimper, and 32-piece precision bit set from Amazon.com ($184.63)
 - Won Ebay bid for 10 music box movements w/ keys and mounting screws ($17.95)
 - Purchased PCB heated bed and some more 1.75mm PLA filament from Ultimachine.com ($107.95)
 - Purchased 24 feet of threaded 5/16" metal rods, some metal files, and hack saw blades from Lowes ($28.00)
 - Decided to dev-blog about this foolishness at the Anim8or community forum
12/04/2011
 - Purchased calipers, table vise, multimeter, and steel ruler from Amazon.com ($49.94 - I have Amazon prime membership)
12/03/2011
 - More research & planning
 - Purchased smooth 5/16" rods from Mcmaster.com
 - Purchased 5 stepper motors, a RAMPS pre-assembled kit, and 1.75mm hot-end kit from Ultimachine.com ($404.95)
12/02/2011
 - Committed to the idea, began research.
 - Purchased the RepRap kit w/ Wade's Extruder from Emakershop.com ($214.95)
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 12:37:10 am by Raxx »
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 09:46:45 pm »


-Frame nearly complete! -
12/09/2011

So, yesterday I started building the frame of the printer and got it about halfway done after a 10 hour spree. Then today after another six hours I managed to get a lot done, to the point where it's got all three move-able axes installed!


It's taking a lot longer than I anticipated because there are a lot of differences between the kit I got and the manual for building that type of printer, so I had to backtrack and scratch my head for about 60% of the time :P Seriously, every 30 minutes I'd stare at a piece in my hand and then disassemble and reassemble everything to make it fit.

Anyway, the mechanics behind it is cool but my build is worrying me a bit. I don't know if it's the quality or design of the gears, but they are not holding the timing belts well at all (the timing belts are those black belts in the two pulley systems you can see in the picture above), so I have to make it as tight as possible for fear of skipping steps. This makes it so that it requires more work for the motors to move the platforms around, maybe too much. I'm hoping I can print up at least the replacement parts for those gears before any problems come up.

Youtube Timelapse Video located at:



-A Start -
12/06/2011

Yesterday, a package arrived containing the Prusa parts kit with Wade's extruder. Today I figured I'd open it up and take a few pictures, since I finally found my camera.


It Came In A Box



With Another Box!



Lo' And Behold, The Kit



A Plastic Part

I finally get to touch a printed plastic part. I immediately noticed how lightweight and rigid it was -- it'll be perfect material for the music boxes! A lot of the parts in this kit are going to require some smoothing and reaming using a file, since the parts are pretty rough around the edges with bits of filament sticking out everywhere. As for the actual quality of the prints, some of the parts are a bit sketchy and could possibly cause problems later on. Hopefully I can print some better quality replacement pieces before anything bad happens to the printer.

Heat Spreader Kit



The Platforms

I'm not too happy about these acrylic sheets because I'm not entirely sure if I'll be using them. I plan on using the PCB heat bed and a glass panel, which should replace at least one of them.

Bag of Hardware



So that's it for now. Not very exciting I know but I figured I'd start this story while I had the time to. The goal is to have the entire frame built by Sunday, possibly the entire printer (after a few trips to RadioShack anyways).


« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 04:50:13 am by Raxx »
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2011, 09:47:02 pm »

Reserved
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2011, 09:47:16 pm »

Bill Of Materials

Critical Parts are those that absolutely must be used for the printer model I'm making. Please note that most of these parts can be made from scratch or assembled, rather than purchased whole.
Supplemental Parts are either optional add-ons, or parts that could be swapped with other variations to achieve the same thing.
Tools & Non-essentials include items that are required for me to complete the project on the whole, rather than just the printer, and include items that could be swapped with other variations or alternatives to achieve the same thing.

Critical Parts For The 3D PrinterDetailsCost
*Linear Bearing Reprap Prusa Kit w/ Wades Extruder (SAE Version)This kit includes everything needed to build the Prusa model except for the electrical components, metal rods, and power supply.$199.95
Five Kysan 1124090 Nema 17 Stepper MotorsMotors to move the extruder around the frame$107.50
RAMPS Pre-Assembled Kit CompleteThe electronics or "brain" of the RepRap.$200.00
MakerGear Hot End Kit for 1.75mm FilamentThis is the hot part that melts the filament and dispatches it onto the board.$86.00
Prusa PCB Heated BedFor larger builds and ABS filament, a heated bed is necessary to prevent warping.$55.00
24 feet of 5/16" Threaded Metal Rods From Lowe'sOnly 18 feet are required overall, bought extra in case of errors in cutting/fitting. Note that there are also smooth metal rods at Lowe's, but they are not of good enough quality.$15.12
9 feet of 5/16" Smooth Metal RodsAlso known as Drill Rods.$13.56
Hobbed BoltThe Prusa kit comes with an un-hobbed bolt. I didn't really have the means to hobb it myself (no mount or tap), and it seemed iffy for a beginner, so I just purchased it separately instead.$7.00
Subtotal    
$684.13
.
Supplemental PartsDetailsCost
PLA 1.75mm Natural 1Kg on Spool (Protoparadigm)PLA (Polylactic acid), comes from renewable resources like corn and is more brittle than ABS with a lower melting temperature. Harder to extrude and so puts more wear on the extruder. Natural PLA can be dissipated at high temperature, making it great for casting. Sweet smell when being melted.$40.00
ABS 1.75mm Natural 1Kg on Spool (Protoparadigm)ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), comes from non-renewable resources like petroleum and is less brittle than ABS with a higher temperature. Easier to extrude so puts less wear on the extruder. Tends to warp unless the printer has a heating bed. Bad smell when being melted.$40.00
PLA 1.75mm Natural 1Kg on Spool (Ultimachine)Different provider of PLA, to compare possible differences in quality.$42.00
iMicro 400W ATX12V Power SupplyTo be converted to a lab power supply. Any power supply that has at least 12v 20amp capabilities will work for a Prusa w/ heat bed, so long as you make the proper modifications.$14.35
.
.
Subtotal    
$136.35
.
Tools & Non-EssentialsDetailsCost
Aoyue 937+ Digital Soldering StationIt was about time to invest in a better quality soldering iron. Has digital thermostat control$48.99
Pro Gravity Airbrushing SystemIncludes air compressor and airbrush. Best deal I could find with the best ratings.$75.96
SE Caliper, Electronic Stainless Steel BodyThis was recommended on a Reprap website. Calipers that read to the 0.1 in or mm, with a digital display. Seems like an awesome investment for future projects.$10.38
Sinometer DT9205 8-Function 32-Range Digital MultimeterA multimeter to take electrical readings. Always wanted one of these so now that I have an excuse...$14.99
The Classics 12-Inch Stainless Steel Ruler with Cork Backing (TPG-152)Works as both a ruler and a straight edge. Never know when you'd need one$3.99
SE 3" Universal Aluminum Table ViseA small vise for me to put on the desk. Will function as a third hand!$12.58
Irwin Industrial Tools 2078317 7-Inch Multi Tool Stripper, Cutter and Crimper with ProTouch GripsAn expensive wire stripper and cutter, but a much needed expensive wire stripper and cutter :P$10.80
Maxtech 16521MX 32-Piece Precision Bit Set32 different bits from phillips to flathead to hex to torx$8.73
Iwata-Medea Cleaning StationCleaner and holder for the airbrush. Will save a load of time.$21.90
Createx Airbrush Cleaner 4 oz.Water will do for the most part, but cleaner is good for clean-up and maintenance at the end of a paint job.$2.90
12 assorted colors of 4oz Airbrush paint, $4.15 eaI'd rather have too much than not enough, with this tight deadline.$49.80
Stanley 42-294 8-Inch Torpedo LevelLevel to ensure proper balance for both the printer and the desk it's sitting on.$5.88
Kobalt 2PC 6" FilesMetal files for various filing tasks. Bought at a local store (Lowe's)$6.38
12" 24t Bi-Metal Hack Saw Blades, 2 countFor my hack saw, to cut the metal rods to size.$3.48
Sankyo Music Box Movements, 18 note lot of 10The music box "music" boxes. Comes with winding keys and mounting screws.$12.00
Variety of 13 Medium to Large Spiral Watch SpringsClock springs, also known as power springs, add more torque to objects when wound up. I may or may not have to use these to assist the music box movements' torque.$8.00
Subtotal    
$296.76
.
Total    
$1117.24

*This was actually purchased at Emakershop.com from the same seller. Since it's no longer listed I listed the Ebay link instead


Please note that the prices do not include shipping & handling or tax.

The point of this list is to show what's needed for this project, and how and where costs can be cut for future projects. For example, the cost of all of the 3D printer parts comes to about $700. Assuming I need this or that minor gadget or electronics, it probably won't exceed $800. Most complete kits I've seen for sale out there are in the $850+ range.

If, after this project, I wanted to build another printer, there is about $200 in printer parts that I can save money on. Future reprap printers being designed by DIY'ers are reaching better cost-effectiveness as well.

If a person is experienced in electrical doo-hickery, $60-$100 can be saved just in the assembly of the electronics.

PLA & ABS filament is somewhat expensive, being about $.04/gram (basically, you're paying a dime for a dime's amount of mass). In the future as this stuff gets more development and local sources increase, the price of filament will go down quite a bit.

I'm spending around $300 on tools I didn't have. Now that I'm going to have a 3D printer, there are a lot of things I can make that would require the use of those tools, so it's a worthy investment for the future.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 05:46:53 am by Raxx »
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$imon

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2011, 09:56:27 pm »

This is an awesome project, Raxx! and very ambitious.. I never thought of actually making a 3d printer yourself; but of course I have always looked in awe at the printers and secretly wanting one..
I wish you a lot of good luck on your experience building it.. I'm sure this will result only in awesomeness! Seeing your 3d models in real life would be the ultimate satisfaction in 3d modeling.
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captaindrewi

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 01:30:39 am »

go raxx go!...looking on with mouth aghast.
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 11:32:02 pm »

Thanks guys!

I updated the project quite a bit, though there's nothing exciting happening yet until I begin the assembly. I'll keep updating as I go along. I'll only take a few pictures of each main stage as I'm building it (this isn't a tutorial :P), but hopefully I can make a few timelapse videos of the entire thing.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 02:57:13 am by Raxx »
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$imon

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2011, 09:35:52 am »

I see the list you've added in the first post - your goals and obstacles - and I have to say that if you pull this one off, you're superman or something! that's some amazingly hard goals in and of itself.
I really wish you good luck on all of this and it sounds really exciting! I just hope you can have a little sleep before christmas as well ;)

If need be, you can always halfway down the line switch the music box idea to just some little sculptures for your family, but I hope the resolution of the printer will be good enough to facilitate the moving parts!
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2011, 04:05:13 pm »

Yeah I've been brainstorming the music box idea the last few days, and though technically all of the parts can be printed (except for the music box movement, winding key, and mounting screws), the smaller parts won't be as durable and will wear down quickly. I haven't received my music box movements yet, but for now it looks like I can only use the one gear that's sticking out of it, unless there is a rod somewhere in the mechanics that I can attach a gear to. That, or I can extend the shaft that is used to wind it, and use that instead.

I'm going to only follow one structure/layout for all of the music boxes. There will be a center piece and then a ring of art surrounding it on the ground. The ring of art will be the moving part, not the center piece. So long as I have only one kind mechanical design for the music boxes, if I can get one working then it'll be fairly easy to use it as a template for all the others. After that the hard part will be the creative design.

Here is an example design I'm thinking of:


1. Ring that moves (plastic--the entire green area is the ring)
2. Music Box Movement
3. Main gear w/ bearing. Drives the ring (metal with plastic shaft)
4. Windup key entry
5. Shaft that holds the center piece and ring bearing in place (plastic)
6. Ring bearing (metal)
7. Center piece

A couple of things. This design assumes it's wound up from the side. Possibly it could be wound up from a different side or from the bottom. 90% sure it's wound from the bottom now. The general design will remain the same, but the orientation and size of the gears and shafts may differ.

So basically, the main gear (#3) will be turning the ring (#1). The ring will have gear ridges that the gear can turn, probably radiating outward from the ring bearing. Most of the friction and weight will be mitigated by the bearings, therefore eliminating a lot of work the music box movement will have to do to turn the ring. The main things I don't like about the design is that there could potentially be minimal movement per wind-up, and it'll be a metal gear working against plastic gear ridges, which will make for very fast wear and tear.

Even as I'm typing this I'm thinking of some modifications (bearings and sprockets are expensive! Going to reduce it to just one bearing if possible), but it all has to wait until I get the actual music box movements to know for sure what I can do with it.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 06:59:36 pm by Raxx »
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2011, 04:51:06 am »

So, yesterday I started building the frame of the printer and got it about halfway done after a 10 hour spree. Then today after another six hours I managed to get a lot done, to the point where it's got all three move-able axes installed!


It's taking a lot longer than I anticipated because there are a lot of differences between the kit I got and the manual for building that type of printer, so I had to backtrack and scratch my head for about 60% of the time :P Seriously, every 30 minutes I'd stare at a piece in my hand and then disassemble and reassemble everything to make it fit.

Anyway, the mechanics behind it is cool but my build is worrying me a bit. I don't know if it's the quality or design of the gears, but they are not holding the timing belts well at all (the timing belts are those black belts in the two pulley systems you can see in the picture above), so I have to make it as tight as possible for fear of skipping steps. This makes it so that it requires more work for the motors to move the platforms around, maybe too much. I'm hoping I can print up at least the replacement parts for those gears before any problems come up.

Youtube Timelapse Video located at:
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headwax

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2011, 11:39:27 am »

Raxx, wow I am so impressed! Good on you and thanks for shareing the data,very interested in how it goes!
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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2011, 12:59:54 pm »

I love the concept of a machine able to construct a copy of itself (at least in part).  The next step is synthetic DNA!  Like Headwax I am very impressed by this project and I am looking forward to seeing some output.  Having been involved with CNC routing over the years, where 3D objects are cut out of raw materials, I find the concept of this 'constructive layering' method of fabrication most intriguing as it neatly sidesteps some of the biggest limitations with other forms of plastic forming such as routing and moulding, where the process itself restricts the complexity and design of the finished product.  Fascinating stuff, watching this project with much interest.
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Raxx

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2011, 03:21:27 am »

Thanks guys. Good news, the printer is up and live! I know I kinda jumped ahead without really updating, but once the holidays are over I'll wrap up the details about this project. Currently I'm working on calibrating the thing so that I can start printing what I want, how I want! I'll update with pics and maybe a timelapse of a few models being made later, not to worry!

Synthetic DNA? Haha, maybe first get some atomic fabricators first ;)
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cooldude234

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Re: Raxx's 3D Printer Project
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2011, 12:58:54 am »

Damn, I always wanted one of those.
If I had one, I'd be making so many custom input devices.
cheers to ya!

PS. Random trivia of the day, how long do lady bugs live for???
(shouldn't be too hard, your on the damn internet!)
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