Sunday, September 22, 2013

3DR “Simple” Delta Printer, Part I

About 8 months ago I discovered personal 3D printers when I learned we had an Up! 3D printer at work specifically for employees to play with. This is a very nice little printer that prints in ABS plastic. I used it to create some parts for my injection molding machine, and I got hooked.

So about 6 months ago I got my first 3D printer, which is a Printrbot Simple:

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They had a special beta price for the first 200 printers of $250 for the kit. For that price, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. I ended up making a lot of modifications to the printer. All parts that are in blue are parts I designed and installed on this printer. I thought this printer was just wonderful, until I purchased a larger and more capable printer, a MendelMax 2.0. Once I got that printer running, I didn’t touch my Simple.

Then about a month ago, I saw an open-source design created by RichRap, one of the well-known early contributors to the personal 3D printer movement. I’d been wondering what to do with my Simple, and then I realized I could use all of the “vitamins” (things like the electronics, stepper motors, bearings, etc.) to build a new printer for not that more more in cost.

RichRap’s printer is called the 3DR RepRap Delta Printer. His printer uses 6mm diameter smooth rods, whereas my Printrbot Simple uses 8mm rods, and therefore has a bunch of 8mm bearings. In the spirit of using as many parts as I could from my Simple, I set out to modify his parts to use 8mm rods.

And there began an adventure. You see, his parts’ design files are published in Sketchup and STL files. I use Solidworks, so I couldn’t just open his files and change a few things. I figured it wouldn’t take much work to re-create his parts in Solidworks, and it didn’t. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I ended up adding curves where he had straight lines to make it look “nicer.” Here is the first version of my derivative design:

Progress 2

I use different colors to denote the different parts. The base of this printer is made from three identical parts that are bolted together, just like RichRap’s design. Once I had this design more or less worked, out, I printed a set of parts for the base. Here is the first one being “born” on my MendelMax 2.0:

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And here are the first three parts assembled:

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Not a bad start. Part II will continue the journey.