CNC Cut Printrbot Simple

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I decided to not only CNC out a Printrbot Simple for a contest that Brook decided to put on. He said for the 1st 5 printed as well as the first 5 CNC cut simples he would give away a simple builders kit. This challenge got me to work on my CNC that has gone by the way side since I’ve dedicated so much time to the 3D printing industry.  I needed to replace the axis couplers and do a little maintenance.  Getting a Simple builders kit will go a long way as it will be used as a teaching tool to show the wide variety of printers. It also works great because it is well, simple. It is a lot easier to teach about 3d printing with a bare bones setup.

I also decided to make a few small changes to the design as I have heard from current owners that there are a few small issues with the design files.  None of these issues are hard to fix. Just a little extra cut off here and there which I will get into later on. I’ve started cutting out the main or larger pieces of the Simple which will allow me to do any calibration that may be needed. I think its really cool that Brook @ Printrbot does little contests like this, it gives people like us the ability to challenge ourselves and be able to get access to parts we couldn’t usually afford. Brook understands that the maker/hackerspace is important to them as a company. Joining the communities and giving them more focused concepts to ponder is a great way to give back as well get help with Printrbot’s designs.

We cut out all the Printrbot pieces needed to make the simple. We had to use an offset and play around with the design as these files were originally ment for a laser cutter. We posted the pics on Twitter this morning which should make us the 5th out of 5 CNC’d Printrbot Simples to be done. This is exciting news for us because we work on donations and dont havd a lot of money for tools to teach such as the wonderfully designed Simple. “Printing A Future Foundation, ” is kept alive with the help of makers everywhere and companies like Printrbot. We have had lots a donations lately and we are trying to enter every contest we can in order to build more kits, get more teaching aids, and build more 3D printers for donations all over the U.S.
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The printrbot simple is perfect to teach kids how 3d printers work. It also shows the different methods of transferring linear motion. I’m excited to start building and would love to be the first to build a functional CNC’d printrbot. We will hopefully find out soon but telling from the Twitter feed we should be the 5th out of 5 winners. We are currently waiting on a custom end mill that is being made to cut out the receivers for the tabs but this is a very small part of the process. We also had to change some of the files to work on a CNC machine. This made things tricky. We have been working non stop since Brook drumm announced the contest and released the simples files. We decided to use quarter inch burch wood with a beautiful grain pattern.

Update: We just recieved the word officially from Printrbot that we are the 5th and final winner of the contest. So as soon as we get our builders kit you will be seeing a functional Printrbot Simple that has been made from CNC cut wood. In birch too. The birch was a little expensive but the super cool grain patterns were well worth it.

We have been told by Printrbot that the builders kit will be sent out today (July 10th) or tomorrow. We are very grateful and cannot wait to get our CNC’d Simple up and running. Our goal is to have the 1st operational Simple made from CNC’d parts. Regardless of wether we do it first or not is just a race between makers. Either way we will be part of a small handful of builders that will be using the Printrbot builders kit which is a really good deal and can be bought at there online store. RepRap Squad will not only benefit from being the first few to build a simple at home. It will also benefit our “Printing A Future Foundation, ”

Here are some early pics of our CNC’d Printrbot Simple

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Update: July As per a challenge from Brook to see if we could alter laser cut Simple plans to cut them out on our CNC machine. We did it, now we are on to pre-fitting all the structural parts with no bad surprises. The only parts we haven’t test fitted is the direct drive extruder due to a couple of pieces not being in the original file. We now have those pieces cut and we will be test fitting those soon.
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Next we will be stripping everything back down again to finish sanding and prepping for paint. So far our plans for the color scheme will be black & grey. More of a greyish whitewash look. After everything is prepped we will start putting together all the hardware that came in our builder kit. The builders kit is a great deal and is highly recommended by RepRap Squad. I will update as the CNC Simple build comes along.
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We are now to the test fit stage for hardware. All the motors fit snugly in their spots as well as all 12 of the 8mm lm8uu linear bearings. It also looks like all the bolt and nut traps fit together well. All of our pieces fit together so tight that we had to do very minor sanding. We could of left it the way it was but we wanted to be able to take it apart and put it back together with ease. Today we will finish up any sanding needed and start putting together the hardware. Everything but the bed (which is already painted) will get painted later on after we get everything how we want it.
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I’ve added these updated pics. You can see that we are getting close to being finished with the hardware. We still need to CNC cut out two pieces for the extruder that wasn’t in the early files we recieved. We should be up and running in the next few days as we are taking our time with this build.
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Update: July 20th 2013
Today we I worked on running wiring and finishing up the hardware. We also worked on installing the and stops. This was a little tricky for us to figure out at first given the little amount of documentation found online. So we took some pictures to show you where the end stops go for the simple. Below you can see the X, Y & Z axis endstop locations. We started running all the wiring and getting all the parts together for the extruder. We also started assembling what we could of the extruder but there were a few designs missing from the released files we hope to get these soon so we can finish the extruder assembly. I have contacted Brook to see if these files have been updated. We also plan on getting the added fan for the Simple that is sold on Printrbot’s web store for $10.
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This is the look I got when I asked our mascots if we should work on the Simple today

I finally finished mounting sll the endstops and running all the wiring. I also finished putting on the spectra line on the X and Y axis. I spent some time with cable management as I wanted everything to be mounted cleanly as well as to be accessible for any future modifications or troubleshooting. This should save me a lot of hassle later on. Everything is labeled clearly on the printrboard, which makes installation fun. The Y axis endstop required me to use somd washers as I didnt have the correct bolts. This was caused by our miscalculations when CNC cutting the endstop mounts. It was an easy fix and I will buy the correct size bolts as soon as I can look through our enormous mostly unorganized stock. Tomorrow I hope to get the last few pieces done for the extruder and then we will be printing and calibrating.
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As you can see in the above picture we have already started some mods on the Printrbot Simple. We’ve added a heatsink to keep the extruder motor happy and cool. We are also adding the fan that you see on the print bed to the front of the extruder to keep everything cool as it goes through the direct drive system. We will also be adding a small piece of bowden PTFE tubing in between the filiment guide and the hobbed gear. This will keep the filiment from bending or binding in the extruder. It’s a cheep little trick that is used on a lot of direct drive extruders, especially when using 1.75mm filiment. Tomorrow I will have some stuff awaiting me at the USPS office. My filiment samples sent to me by maker geeks should be arriving. This will be perfect timing as I will be able to test them through my newly built CNC cut Simple.
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I have a lot of plans in store for this beautiful one of a kind Printrbot Simple and I cant wait to start modding.

Here’s the final finished and calibrated CNC cut Printrbot Simple. I was lucky enouph to have a buddy with a printrboard that was already setup for the simple, so we used his. Plus i didnt want to use my new one because im going to use it for my printrbot plus. Soon after all that work I had to take her apart to use for my Printrbot plus v2 dual extruder beta build. Eventually I will be putting back together using a spare RAMPS 1.4 board that I have along with 2 different steppers. Here’s the final build pics, I will post more when I hage time to change it over to RAMPS 1.4 setup.
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Simple Modifications
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do any modifications. I love pushing the envelope to see what is possible with these machines. One of my first modifications will be to extend the print bed as well as the sub mount. Im debating at this time to switch the bed over to a belt. The spectra line works well and is a good way of creating linear motion but, I have some spare belts and matching gears. Since I’ve already taken two motors off of the simple it only seemed fitting to put two more back on. I will also be switching controllers from the stock printrboard to a new RAMPS 1.4 setup. I also have 3 makerbot endstops that I might use if there is space to mount them. Makerbot endstops are larger than the Simples add on ones because they have LEDs and quick connect plugs. The LEDs on the endstops let you know that they are active as well as if they are tripped. This makes troubleshooting endstop issues a breeze.

So as a quick recap of the modifications I will start out with are as follows: Change out 2 motors, RAMPS 1.4 controller, Makerbot endstops, bed+submount extensions and change the bed from spectra line to belts. I will update with build info as well as pictures as I go along.

I finished cutting out the bed extension and sub mount. I ended up extending the bed about 3.5″ longer. This comes close to doubling the print size and will allow me to print a wide range of items.

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Extended bed and sub mount

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More then likely due to the length of the bed I will add 2 more spring leveler mounts to the middle. This will allow for better accuracy and a bed that is consistently level. If it wasn’t so skinny this probably wouldn’t be an issue. I plan on adding glass later which will help as well.
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You can see the original grey colored bed under the sub mount

I started to disassemble my Printrbot simple so that I could put on the new motor with an aluminum pully. This will transfer into linear motion through the belt I will be adapting for the movement of the bed. I’m still debating wether or not to replace the other spectra contrlled axis with a belt. This axis will be a lot harder to use a belt on due to the position of the motor and the mounts. So far the motor went in perfectly as it is about the same size as the stock kysan motor I removed.

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I had to knotch the screw spectra mount to accommodate the width of the belt

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I was originally worried about the clearances between the pully and the sub mount but, it fit like a glove

Update: August 21st 2013
Printrbot has recently released a extension for the Printrbot Simple. Longer z axis as well as a longer bed. It looks like our cnc simple is going to need some new mods. Currently we are working hard on project “XL” but, once we are finished we more then , likely will have to test out some new mods. Here’s a picture of a Printrbot Simple with the new extended print space.
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Posted from RepRap Squad HQ

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About Envious Mods

Custom PC case mods and fabrication is a lifestyle for me. I love being able to come up with an idea and then make it a reality. If you need help with your own case mods or ideas I'm always available. Happy Modding!

Posted on July 8, 2013, in RepRap Squad's - Mods, RepRap Squad's Projects and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hey,

    Your printer looks really great. Have you tried making it in any other materials?

    I made a mistake and bought the printrbot simple without the laser cut wood. I don’t have the tools necessary to make the parts. I was wondering if you had an extra set or would be willing to make some more that i could buy off of you? Thanks.

  2. Hi,
    Nice job!
    Could you please publish the CNC files(in any format)? I am looking all over internet and i cant find them anymore.

    • Unfortunately, I do not. When we did the parts, we just took individual pieces out of the DXF, ran them through vCarve Pro, and then sent the gcode to Mach3. Preparing the pieces for milling seems a lot like slicing an STL for a printer… I’m under the impression that most machinists want to tailor the gcode for their machine. vCarve Pro should have the filleting options that you need. I can check to see if the files are still available but I don’t think my machinist kept them on hand, since they weren’t particularly organized.

  3. I am having a super problem getting my printrbot simple calibrated, the x and y just won’t get synced and print a nice 360 degree circle, it keeps printing an oval, do you have any tips on calibrating the darn machine? (email e.manion009 at gmail dot com) mine is like yours was stock, only i have since added a heated bed and i have the end stop upgrade kit.

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