RepRap Squad’s New Aluminum Plus
I’ve always been a big fan of Printrbots designs and products. I decided it was time to build our version of the Printrbot Plus platform using high end parts.
We wanted to build a printer that was fast, efficient and as strong as can be. Solid aluminum blocks were milled out to replace the carriage mount, x axis and z axis setup that is similar in design to printrbots plus v2. Recently we received 25mm by 40mm aluminum tubing to make the frame and support structure. This printer will be decent size at about: 10-12″ x axis, 10 -16″ y and z axis’s. The strong materials used as well as the design will allow it to be used as a CNC or laser cutter. Lots of new technology will be applied to this build and high end parts will be used.
The y axis already has aluminum bearing blocks and we plan to use aluminum for all the rod mounts. Abs plastic will be used when necessary, primarily for sub mounts and brackets.
I’ve worked out the main setup including the x axis rod mounts as well as the x axis ends that make up the z axis. The x axis idler bearing will be quite a bit larger than the typical 608 bearings that are usually used. Since I haven’t completely decided how I plan to do the base and y axis. I plan to make a little jig or stand that can be used to mount the z and x axis’s while I work on them. I took two pieces of square aluminum tubing and bolted them together. These will work as a base to hold the setup for now.
I found some nice, heavy duty endstop or homing switches that I plan on using. The x axis homing switch was mounted today. Only time will tell whether or not these new switches will perform better than the typical ones used. Right now I currently have the x axis at about 12+ inches which will be plenty wide. The dual rod screws in the x axis mounts help the whole top from twisting. Once all 8 grub screws are tightened onto the x axis rods it makes the entire section of upper parts function as one piece.
I have yet to decide whether or not I will use the dual extruder setup that I have or make a single extruder setup. More than likely I will be using a ramps 1.4 controller that I have. The ramps controller supports dual extruders so the only parts I would need that I currently dont have would be an extra hotend. I plan to run Ubis hotends on this build because I have found them to be reliable. I will update this post as the build goes on.
Update: April 12th 2014
Today I was able to start cutting the aluminum tubing for the frame. I’ve decided on parts of the frame design but, not entirely. Right now I’m leaning towards a frame layout similar to the Bukitobot. I have finished the main vertical support and the top horizontal portion. As of now I’m working on designing the y axis setup which will help determine the last portion of the frames layout. I should be able to update with some pictures tomorrow.
I started cutting and mocking up a lot of the frame. I still haven’t completely decided on exactly how the frame will be done but, I have enough to show a few pictures. I designed and printed a few brackets as well as motor mounts for the z axis.
Update: April 19th 2014
Today I started to design the end caps that cover the ends of the aluminum tubing. I figured it would take a few different attempts to get it right but, I was luck enough to get it right the first time. I also re-designed the x axis motor mount that bolts onto the aluminum mounts. I needed to shave a few mm off of one side for a better fit. This also gave me a chance to make a more user friendly z axis switch adjustment. The main bolts for the y axis support have been installed as well.
The plan right now is to have the y axis removable for easier transportation. The z axis smooth rod mounts also need to be designed as I plan to support them from the top as well. I managed to add two feet to the main structure for easy leveling. These feet also have a non slip under coating, that way the printer won’t walk during high speed operations.
Update: April 20th 2014
Lots of work has been done today. I was able to cut the remaining pieces for the frame as well as print out some more end caps. The end caps on the aluminum tubing are not required but, they do give it a more polished look. The y axis rod mounts have been designed and printed but I have one more set to go. The top z axis rod mounts have also been designed and printed. I still need to design the ones that will help to stablize the bottom of the rods. Once all of these parts are finished and mounted I will take some pics.
I have also been trying to figure out how exactly I should mount the controller bay. As of now it will be mounted behind the left vertical uprights. The power supply will more than likely be mounted behind the right vertical uprights. I’m trying to keep everything mounted very well for transportation reasons. Some of the wiring is planned to run inside the tubing while the other bits will be ran along the outside of the tubing.
I also wanted to give a special thanks to Gold August for milling out the ends and rod mounts. He definitely did a great job and they came out exactly how I imagined it.
Update: April 21st 2014
I was able to design a few 90 degree support brackets that will be used for the lower frame/ y axis sub structure. The design printed great the first time and I was able to print 4 of them in about an hour. The brackets are heavy duty and help to keep everything aligned. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of cable management system to use. the xbox 360 16.5 amp 203watt psu was mounted behind the right vertical tubing as mentioned earlier. I was able to secure it using a large L bracket and a couple zip ties. The power plug is at the rear of the bot, this keeps it out of the way during operations.
Update: April 24th 2014
I finally have access to a decent camera so I took a few updated pics on the build progress.
Update: April 27th 2014
A decent amount of progress has been done. I designed and printed wire organizers and pass throughs. I also mounted a wire terminal block so that all the wiring could be split off of the power supply. The rear cross brace supports have also been added to the y axis’s sub mount. The beds smooth rod setup will be different than any other build I’ve had.
I’m changing it a bit in order to fully support the y axis because the rods are fairly long. This will leave the build with a huge y axis as well as a large x and z axis. The z axis will come in about 15 inches, depending on how the bed is setup will alter the z height. Right now the x axis is about 13 inches and the y will be about 16 inches.
Update: April 29th 2014
Today I’m trying to tackle the y axis and the beds setup. I’ve debated back and fourth several different setups but, in the end I think I will use a setup that is similar to printrbots design. More than likely the rods will go under the cross braces in the frame with a center mounted motor. That will allow me to use at least two idlers on the y axis. I also need to reprint a larger RepRap Squad logo that goes on the top of the frame.
Most of the rods im currently using are ones I use for mock ups. Now that I know exactly how long they need to be. I can order a few sets. I plan to explore printable bearings, but if they are not up to my standards then I will have to order a set of lm12uu bearings.
Update: April 30th 2014
I was able to adapt the rear spacers for the carriage. Since I made the x axis carriage mount a lot smaller and lighter, I needed to add spacers to the rear so that the x axis belt could be attached. I still need to decide if I will add a part to adjust the belt or if I will add an idler similar to what I have on my printrbot plus. The advantage of an idler is that it can be adjusted on the fly but, it requires more design and effort to install. I will try and get some pictures today of the progress.
Update: May 1st 2014
I was able to get a few pics together so that you could see how the belt was mounted to the carriage. It came out better than I hoped.
Today I plan on sorting out the cable management set up. I want the wiring to be as organized as possible, that way everything is accessible. I’ve been working on designing different strain relief mounts to put through out the frame. I made sure to put some wiring mounts under the frame as well. right now I am printing a setup that will organize the wiring going into the controller bay.
Update: May 5th 2014
Inwas able to print and mount the rear corner brackets that help to support the frame. After adding these supports the frame became solid and doesn’t move in any direction. I still need to decide on the y axis setup as I want it to take advantage of the available space while supporting the rods as much as possible. I need to find a happy medium between rod support and usable print space along the y axis. I added in a couple strain reliefs for the wiring that goes into the control bay.
The cooling system has been wired into the terminal block which splits power coming from the psu. The controllers enclosure has a top mounted 60mm exhaust fan and two side mounted 50mm inlet fans which should keep the controller nice and cool during operation. The cooling system for the electronics also has a bypass switch but, I’ve wired everything to come on once the power supply is taken off of standby. I also plan on adding a couple leds. One led will state that the psu is off of standby, the other will state wether or not power is going to the extruder.
Update: May 10th 2014
I finally got some time to work on the build a bit more today. I designed the 90° corner brackets for the front that go around the motor mounts. These were a little bit difficult to do because they had to go with the motor mount as well as strengthen the lower supports on the frame. I’m currently printing off the left bracket set to see if it will fit correctly. If the left one turns out okay I will print off the right set.
I was also able to make the supports that hold the z-axis motors. The point of these supports is to hold the bottom of the motors, which will help to keep the z axis inline with the upper rod mount.
Update: May 13th 2014
I finally had time to finish printing and installing the front 90° brackets that go around the z-axis motor mounts. These two brackets helped to make the entire structure rock solid. I also managed to install the spacers under the Z axis motor mounts which clear up the gap between the base and the bottom of the motor. A few more end caps were also printed today to cover the ends of the aluminum tubing. Although doing this isn’t required I think that it gives it a clean look.
The list of parts that still need to be printed is getting pretty small. I still haven’t completely decided on how the y-axis will be set up. I’ve been putting it off a little while until I can do more research. I have about three or four different ways that I could do the y-axis but I’m still debating which one is the best for this platform.
I should be able to snap a few pictures of the build progress later today. Most of the major parts within the structure that tied to the axis’s are adjustable so that they can be fine-tuned once I get the new parts. I always use a spare set of parts that are just used to mock up for builds. That way I can order the pieces once the frame and structure is complete.
This 3-D printer is turning out to be exactly how I imagined it before building. It has a large print area while still offering up great portability. It will definitely be strong enough to run as a small CNC mill. I’ve also been debating getting a laser attachment for laser etching.
Update: May 20th 2014
I’m working on an auto leveling setup for this build. Printrbot has already created an auto leveling setup. I was able to find some parts that cost about .50 cents that I’m using to build the probe. I will update with info as I go.
Update: May 22nd 2014
I’ve been working out a lot of the smaller details lately. Things like heatsinks on the extruder motor as well as the X axis motor. The z-axis already has integrated heat-sinks built into the spacers and when I mount the y-axis motor I will add a heat-sink at that time as well. While having heatsinks is not a requirement, it helps to keep the motors running cooler which makes them last longer and perform better. I’ve also been working out my probe set up which will allow for the software to compensate for the angle of the bed.
I finally got around to printing off all the end caps for the aluminum tubing. Next I plan to tackle the y-axis and print bed set up. Once it’s finished I will have to pull the whole thing apart, sand it down, etch and prep the aluminum tubing for paint.
Update: May 25th 2014
I decided to take some time today to figure out where I wanted to mount the spools. Some people integrate them into the design and others just assume the end-user can figure it out for themselves. Using a tabletop mounted spool was also an option but, for the most part I wanted this build to be self-contained. I wanted transports to be as easy as possible as well as keeping set up times to a minimum. After playing with different spool mounting options I came up with a three-point spool mounting system.
This setup allows you to mount a spool either horizontally or vertically depending on your needs. It also supports two spools at once for dual extruder printing. Realistically you could mount up to 3 spools at one time with two of them being mounted vertically and one mounted horizontally. No matter which mount you use. The transition is easy and only requires a couple easy to remove bolts.
Today I will also start to tackle the bed mount system. I will be using a three-point adjustment for the bed because it is a lot more reliable and easier to tune. Four-point systems work but, tend to be a lot more finicky and involved to tune correctly. I am also going back-and-forth whether or not to add to heated beds or just one. I have enough space to run two 8×8 beds stacked one after another. Doing this would give me about 8×16 inches of heated print surface.
Update: May 26th 2014
I started ordering some parts to replace the mockup pieces. Today the threaded rod arrived and it was surprisingly straight. The z axis threaded rods are about 20″ long on each side. I used a custom pair of matching Kysan motors for the z axis. I still need to order 3 more large Kysans for the x, y and extruder.
The z axis threaded rods are cut a little bit longer than required. I did this so I could add handles at the top of each rod. These handles make for quick and accurate manual adjustments. For anyone that is an avid user, this is must. I also finished up all the matching spool mounts.
Update: July 3rd 2014
I just got the parts in for the horizontally mounted spool roller. This will offer up a spool feed system that is mounted on the middle section on the top of the frame. Including the 2 side mounts, up to 5 spools can be mounted on the frame. I also installed quick release knobs for the spool mounts so that they can quickly be removed.
The horizontally mounted spool holder is adjustable to fit just about any size spool. The two vertically mounted spool holders will hold a large range of spool sizes.
Update: July 11th 2014
Recently a decent amount of time has been spent wiring the cooling system as well as the main power switch. The main power switch will take the xbox psu off of standby. The electronics bay has 3 fans. Two exhaust fans and one intake. I have carefully designed an airflow path to optimize cooling. I used quick disconnect plugs that lock for each fan which allows any of them to be moved or turned off.
I have also started working on the dual extruder setup that I will use for this build.
Update: July 3rd 2014
As you may of noticed, I haven’t updated this post in a little while. This has been due to lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes at RepRap Squad. I have however, recently had some free time to work on this beast.
I purchased some smaller spiral wrap for some of the cable sets that are located within the electronics bay. I spent some time today organizing those wires as well as making sure that all the fans are working. So far this setup has 3 fans to cool the electronics bay. Two of those fans are inlets and the one mounted on the lid is an outlet. I did this intentionally to create an efficient airflow pattern. Cold air from down low push in from both sides making the warm air exit upwards.
Luckily I had a few quick moments to take a couple pics of the progress.
Update: July 4th 2014
I had some free time so I started to design the cable management setup that will be mounted behind the left vertical frame riser. The cabling that will be held up will be for the two Bowden extruders that will be mounted right above each spool.
I plan on designing a bracket that will hold each Bowden setup. I may or may not move the side spools downwards to make room for the dual Bowden setup.
July 7th 2014
I was able to print a few test brackets that will go behind the vertical risers on the left. I will probably end up changing the design a little bit but these test pieces let me know where everything will go. I also had to keep in mind, a possible third extruder. Currently the plan is to use a dual Bowden extruder setup and each Bowden gear set will be mounted directly above its corresponding spool.
The cable management design will hold wiring for up to three Bowden extruders and top mounted task lights. With this specific build I am trying to keep in mind any future upgrades as well as possible mods. Everything is self-contained within the build.
Since I have made the recent decision to go with a dual extruder and possible triple extruder. I will need to add another mount for a second psu. I haven’t decided if I will add a second 203watt xbox psu or go with a laptop psu for my second supply.
Update: July 8th 2014
Testing out new filament from PushPlastic gave me an opportunity to print the laptop psu mounts. This printer will have two power supply’s. The largest one is enough to power an extruder and heated bed, while the laptop psu will power the 2nd extruder. Once I add a larger bed and a possible triple extruder setup, I will need to swap out the laptop psu for a 2nd 203 watt xbox psu that I have. With the 2 xbox psus I will be running about 400 watts @ approx 35 amps between the two. The laptop psu and the single xbox psu would offer up about 22 amps. I am a big fan of the xbox psus as they have lots of built in features, active cooling and a great shape that works with a lot of platforms.
So far I am very impressed with PushPlastics filament. Later this week I plan to test out other filaments from PushPlastic as well as some HIPS from Extrudables. I will do a separate post for the tests of those filaments. They will be done in multiple colors along with a few samples of MakerGeeks. If you would like to mod an xbox psu to work with your RepRap, I have a post on how to do it. Use the search bar to find the write up.
Update: July 12th 2014
I was able to get the laptop Psu mounted along side the larger Xbox Psu. It’s a perfect fit and doesn’t really take up any extra space. I also managed to put together the mount for handheld LCD/controller. I wanted to make sure that the mount was adjustable as well as being viewable when it’s set on a tabletop. I ended up coming up with a great mounting system that made both these options available.