The 3D Printing revolution has started. It will change the way we think, design, manufacture, distribute and use products. Thanks to open-source 3D printer projects shared on-line (see: www.reprap.org) it finally became affordable for people to build their own and share knowledge and experiences about it.
I couldn’t resist on building my own 3D printer! I had to. So last summer I did and it was one of the biggest satisfactions I had in my entire life. I feel proud of having put together a machine, that is capable of building, with quite a high level of precision, other products or even other machines.
Here’s a video that shows it in action:
I’ve decided to share my 3D printing experience on this blog and give support to people who want to build their printers or simply want to know more about 3D printing.
My machine is a custom Rostock 3D printer. It’s a so called Delta Printer because instead of having 3 orthogonal axis ( X, Y, Z ), like most printers, it has instead 3 vertical columns, forming a delta shape from the top. Delta printers can normally print faster and bigger, but what made me fall in love with the Delta 3D Printer concept in first place was the fact that they are so beautiful to see operating. We can say they are more robots than normal 3D printers. I’ve also found an inner conceptual beauty in it, the way the 3 carriages vertical movement is translated into a three dimensional movement for the hot end is simply amazing.
The Rostock 3D printer main project was originally developed by Johann Rocholl, I followed his instructions and implemented the project with an outer structure made with some spares Ikea closet I had in my cellar. I knew that one of the weak point of Rostock printers was structural rigidity and stability and I think I my idea helped a lot to fix this problem.
So this was actually the very starting point of my 3D printer building process:
In the meantime I had ordered all the other components except for the hot end, the extruder and the heated bed that arrived later on together with the first ABS filament spool. The electronic is a RAMPS 1.4 mounted on a Arduino Mega. I got a complete set of already assembled electronics with end stops and cables. The power supply is a normal computer ATX.
Then I was ready to put them in the wooden structure and place a black painted MDF platform on top. This time I’ve chosen a heat proof black paint considering that the heated bed had to go exactly on top of it. In the picture the pulley is already in place, ready to couple with the belts that will allow the vertical carriages to slide along the two 8mm metal rods.
Each carriage run smoothly on the metal rods thanks to 2 LM8UU linear bearings firmly attached to it with plastic fasteners. On top of the metal rods you can see the idler end plastic component. The hole in it allow to insert an M8 screw to fix a 608ZZ skateboard ball bearing. The timing belts connect this point to the lower motor pulley and this is what allow the vertical carriages to move. I didn’t make any picture of the belt positioning, I think it was a tough moment and I forgot it. It was quite hard to find a way to give the belts the right tension.