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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Printrbot’s Aluminum Extruder Goes Plastic

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We recently found the printable version of printrbots new aluminum extruder. I wanted to make an adapter plate for our dual extruder setup on our plus as it comes with 2 DDE. Soon Printrbot will be offering the aluminum extruder on the plus’s dual extruder kit. We wanted to test out the design before we spent almost $100 on 2 new aluminum DDE.

I think that the printed version may work great as I’ve heard of issues with the aluminum extruder acting as a heatsink causing jams. There are several reasons why I would like to use the aluminum extruders design. The main one is the orientation of the motors and the second is the convenience involved with the new design.
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If I can get the new design to work properly than I will also need to custom design new fan mounts. I want to use the aluminum extruder mounts as they are an important part of the dual extruders design. They also allow for easy adjustments of hotend heights. I printed off the first of the two that I will need and tomorrow I plan on printing the second so I can start to mock up the adapter mount.

You can find the printable version of this DDE HERE
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Update: March 26th 2014
I printed the first of the two required for my dual extruder setup. I was rather surprised to see how well the parts printed with out adding any support structures. The parts required a little bit of clean up to get everything to fit right. I tested them on the dual extruder plate because I was worried that they both wouldn’t fit correctly. After some mock up it looked as if it wouldn’t need much if any modifications other than a mount plate. I only have one position that I can mount these because I want to reuse the aluminum extruder mount. I plan on printing off the second extruder today ao that I can figure out mounting points on the carriage.

Here’s the first extruder to be finished, with the 2nd printing away
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Now that I’ve printed out my two mock up versions and tested them on the dual extruder mounting plate. I can see that they are a little bit too wide to fit with the stock dual aluminum extruder mount. I will have to modify them a little bit in order to fit both of them correctly. I can either modify the model, modify it after its printed or design a new dual extruder setup.

The wood direct drive extruders work fine as they are now but, I like the accessibility of the design as well as the orientation of the stepper motors. I also want to see if my smaller nema 17 custom Kysan steppers will do the job. Since I’m running 1.75mm filament, the smaller Kysans should have enough torque to do the job. The only way to know for sure is tontest them out. I do know that I will at least need to add heatsinks to them as I do know with my current setup. The question is, will I have to run 40mm fans as well.
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The two mock up versions pictured above were printed in PLA at 160mm p/s at 20% infill and .3 layer height. The final versions will be printed in ABS with much higher infill, slower print speeds to reduce any over shoot and more infill. I might change the layer height to .2 as well. The aluminum extruder mount works well to keep the heat away from the extruders.

Posted from RepRap Squad HQ

New Mods On The Plus V2/V2.2 Hybrid

I’ve always looked at cable carriers or drag chain as a good way to keep wiring nice and organized. It also helps to put less wear on your wiring which is important due to the constant movements while printing. I had to not only take on the task of printing a bunch of pieces that make up the drag chain but, I also had to custom design mounts for my PB Plus v2. I also had a little more challenge than most as I have dual extruders which means almost twice the amount of wiring going to the carriage.
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I came up with a dual drag cable setup that uses one cable setup on each side instead of printing one massive drag cable and trying to fit all my wiring within it. This setup also makes it a little bit easier when replacing individual cables if needed. I also took the opportunity to upgrade the thickness of the wiring, particularly the more power hungry stuff. In order to complete this mod I also extended some of the cabling using a kit that I found on ebay for $7. The kit came with 10×4 pin, 10×3 pin and 10×2 pin 70 cm cables which is more than enough to do this mod as well as some wiring I needed for the JunkBot Build.

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Using this drag chain helps to create soft bends in the wiring which helps the internal wires to last longer. I also added several new strain reliefs which help me tell where the wiring will be the most stressed during operation. This makes future replacements a lot easier because it is more likely to eventually fail in a location that is easy to replace.
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For the wiring that goes to the extruder, I decided to do one on each side instead of the typical way of doing it. Typically you will have one cable carrier for each axis. Mine is setup to have two for the x and z axiss. This lets me divide up the extra cabling associated with having two extruders. In some ways its more difficult and in others its easier to do it this way. I’ve completed all the required connections and all I have left is to fire up my printer after I double check the wiring.

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I started putting my plus through the paces and its working great so far. I printed out a top support bracket in the above pictures. I tested each axis to see its range of movement. Below you can see the z axis at 250mm with a lot more space to go. All I have left is to make a system for the y axis.

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I’ve also been having some issues with my z axis due to worn out rods. This is translating into a wobbly carriage which has effected print quality. A friend of mine made a bet that printing a bearing setup that goes right above the aluminum couplers would help tame some of the issues. I had been skeptical about it but, I figured that I would give it a shot. To get these thrust bearing setups just right literally gave me a headache. Lots of sanding, fitting and refitting was required. Im just now waiting for the first print to finish so I can see if all this work actually made a noticeable difference or not.

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These thrust bearings have made a noticeable difference. Those in combination with the new drag cables and a few other mods have my Printrbot Plus V2 hybrid operating better than ever. Im also running at almost twice the speed that I usually operated at. This translates into better quality prints at a much faster pace.
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After using the new thrust bearing setup for a bit I figured it was time to design some proper top joiners with matching 608 bearings. I looked extensively on thingiverse but, I was unable to come up with much that would work well with my setup. I also wanted something with a little bit of a personality, so to speak. I designed a model on sketchup that would work great. I made it so it can be flipped to sandwich each other instead of designing two separate pieces. I added some curves to its design which helps to use less plastic when printed as well as a better look than it would ifni made it square.

I printed the two bottom pieces first. They required a little bit of sanding as I made them to be a very tight fit so that they wouldn’t slide down the 12mm rods. I installed the bottom pieces and now I am printing off the top two pieces for added strength. Im sure they would work fine without the tops but I will test them out to see if there is a noticeable difference. I already noticed the wobble in my z axis essentially disappeared upon installing the two bottom pieces.

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Updates: March 25th 2014 (New heated bed and PSU)
You know we couldn’t stop there. We still needed to update our new bed with a heated bed. Since our Plus V2 hybrid is a dedicated printer in our prototyping lab we decided to add another dedicated 16.5 amp 203w power supply to be used solely by our heated bed. We decided to give the mk2 platform a shot to see how it stood up against our older 24v silicone bed. I will update with heating times.
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We also added an auto relay to keep everything off of the Printrboard which will help it to not have to work so hard. Another addition was hardboard, it serves as a strong base for our heated bed. Because we didn’t use a SSR or Solid State Relay we had to add a diode in order to protect the Printrboard from reverse emf. Most people recommend to use a 1N4001 diode but, after doing some research I found that any diode in that series will work. We had a 1N4004 diode available, so thats what we used.
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An important note is the Printrboards polarity on the heater pins output. For one reason or another they show the 2 pins closest to the corner of the board as red. We all know that red typically means positive but, this isnt the case on the Printrboard Rev D. The two pins closest to the corner of the board are negative even though they are shown as red within many diagrams. Usually polarity within this mosfet isn’t that important but, it becomes important with the use of a diode.
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The power supply we added still has quite a bit of power to spare even when using the heated bed. Mk2 beds are rated to pull about 10-11 amps when they first turn on. Our supply is rated at 16.5 so we have a bit of room to power our new IP camera as well as a new adjustable led light. The new led lights and camera are mounted on the back of the bed so we can check on prints when we are in another room in the house or shop. We don’t recommend that you let your printer run unattended as it can be a potential fire hazard if things go awry.
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Update: March 27th 2014
I have finally had time to finish up everything with the mk2 heated bed add on. I tested it out and the auto relay works great. It definitely heats up faster than running it off of the board. The dedicated power supply is mounted on the left side of my Plus hybrid. Right now I’m running 3 power supplies, technically 4 if you count the Printrstands cooling system. I could run the setup with less and I plan to do so once I finish my y cable to 4 pin setup.

I will be using the 25amp 350 watt psu for the Printrboard, extrudrboard, hotend #1 & hotend #2. Then I will keep the 16.5 amp 203 watt psu running the heated bed as well as task lights and other accessories. I’ve also added a 60mm directional fan that I can move around where ever it is needed for specific types of prints. I definitely like the quick heat up times with the dedicated power supply going to the bed.

Update: March 28th 2014
The new heated bed works like a dream and the best part is that the whole setup only costs about $10-12. I got the heated bed with leds and resister already installed for $5 with shipping included. I had the spare auto relay, wiring and diode in the scrap pile. I also snagged the xbox psu for $3 and payed a few more dollars for assorted parts. You can snag a lot of decent parts on ebay for cheap if you are patient and you know what you can buy for cheap as well as what you should never go cheap on. Things like hotends and motors are important investments. Otherwise you spend more time fighting the parts vs the prints.

Update: April 1st 2014
I made new mounts for my printrboard as well as my extrudrboard which controls the extra extruder. I also added better cooling for the two boards and better task lighting so I can see my prints. I added a set of 3 leds on the extruder due to the premature failure of my old task lights caused by the temps near the hotend. This time I mouhted the new leds on the top of the extruder to help shield them from temperature exposure. I took a couple new pics so you can see the modifications. I will add more info onnthe mods ASAP.
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Posted from RepRap Squad HQ

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Dual Extruder Production Version

We have done an entire post on Printrbot’s dual extruder beta and now we have received the production version that you can buy on Printrbot.com We will be detailing information on the production version as we get it installed within the next week or so. We took a look at the kit briefly before heading out of town to work on some of RepRap Squads other projects.

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Here's what comes in the kit

The new dual extruder kit has an all aluminum extruder mount with easy access to the adjustment screws. This is very important when operating and dual extruder setup. I’ve found that there are times when you want a small offset between the extruder height but,  for the majority of printing you will want them to be exact. This is what printrbot did well. The aluminum extruder mount holds the extruders firmly and I’m not sure what kind of thermal effects the aluminum will have but,  I’m sure it’s something that printrbot did intentionally. They also give you all the pieces required to update your v2 carriage to the new styling of the v2.1 – which we really like as it is a lot better design.

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This is a completely installed kit

Update: January 14th 2014
Today I plan on digging as deep as I can into the dual extruder production version. One thing I had noticed by looking at the parts is that the x bridge rod spacing will be changed for those of you that have a plus or LC V2. The rods will be moved closer together to match the rod spacing of the V2.1. This is actually a verge simple conversion as Printrbot included the new x rod mounts. The only downside is that any parts or mods you had to fit the x axis on your V2 will now not fit. Essentially I now have a Printrbot Plus V2.2 without the fully widened x axis because the V2.1’s x axis was extended to accompany the extra space needed for the dual extruders. I guess that means we have some sort of hybrid between the Plus V2 and the V2.2. I had some parts made specifically for the V2 that will now have to be remade. I will update as I go today.

The Journey Has Begun:
I am most of the way through assembly with a little wiring left to go. I still need to flash my replacement board and install it as well. I added quick disconnect locking connections to the led task lights as well as the fans so that if they ever need to be replaced I can just unlock them and click on the new ones. I bought a pack of 40 on eBay for about $2, which was a really good price. Those connectors are very similar to the ones pb uses.

Printrbot did a great job of putting together this add-on kit. It probably took about 2 hours to assemble the new kit and disassemble the old one. Remember I had the dual extruder beta kit and then transformed into the production and the production version which is way better. You can really tell that Brook took into account all the issues us beta testers had with the beta version. Not only that but, they took it to next level. If you have a printrbot plus v2 and you buy this kit then you get a lot more than just dual extruders. This kit changes the rod spacing to make it match the v2.1 as well as aluminum bearing blocks for the x axis. It also changes the whole carriage to the new v2.2. So it blends a little of the old with the new.

The new rod spacing is about 10-12mm or so closer together than the stock v2. I still need to organize wiring as well as rebuild my cable carrier that runs on a rail system that uses two abec5 608 bearings it also doubles as a stabilizer for the x axis. I used aluminum tubing and steel L shaped brackets to build the x stabilizer. If you haven’t noticed by now, the majority of my mods serve more than one use. One thing that I did change due to the depth of my fans, was to move them on top of the fan plate instead of the stock location which would be under it. This allows for better clearances that would be an issue if mounted in the normal location. Printrbot did a great job of opening up the view of the extruders, the beta version had them enclosed which made it hard to see the prints during operation.

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These are the locking connectors that I spoke about earlier

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Here's the almost together dual extruder kit.. Still needs lots of wiring done to make it just right.

Today I finished up wiring the fans as well as the Printrboard controller. I also flashed the unified v2 firmware which is different from the firmware we used while beta testing. I took the opportunity to upgrade Repetier to the newest version as well as slic3r. I started having issues when I connected my printer to Repetier for the first time. After doing an M119 gcode command to check the status of the endstops or homing switches, I realized that it thought that they were triggered when they were not. After doing some troubleshooting I found that the old firmware required the endstops to be wired opposite of the new unified firmware. So I ended up pulling off all the endstops to rewire them to correct the issue. Tomorrow I plan on re-calibrating the entire bot to make sure everything is running how it should.

Update: January 23rd 2014
I fired up the plus today to make sure my endstop or homing switch rewire fixed the issues and it did. Everything moved correctly and I thought I may be ready to start with a few prints. Loading the filament for the first time was a learning experience. I’ve done it plenty of times but, the newly designed extruder leaves less room where the filament feeds in. The reason printrbot did this was to get rid of an old topper that helped with feeding but, didn’t always work correctly and came off rather often. The dual extruders face each other so there is no side access like you might find on the single extruder models. Looking for a way to find access to the hobbed gear I found that if you lift up both fans you get great access to the gears and insides of the extruders.

Everything looked to be functioning correctly so I thought I might throw a couple prints through it. After finally getting the filament fed into the extruder and priming it, I hit run the job. Everything looked to be functioning correctly but, I wasn’t getting any filament coming through the hotend. After a little trial and error I realized that I forgot to rotate the extruder motor plug on the Printrboard. The reason mine was running backwards was due to the beta firmware having backwards motor setup that had to be fixed by flipping the plug. So I flipped the extruder motor plug back to its stock orientation as required by the unified v2 firmware. Tomorrow I will start calibration as well as setup the correct extruder height.

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Update: January 26th 2014
My first few prints started out good but, later failed due to the filament slipping off of the hobbed gear. Printrbot recently changed the wood DDE designs which got rid of the top support that keeps the filament in line with the hobbed gear. They made an attempt to close up more of the top of the extruder but, it wasn’t enough to keep the filament where it should be. I’ve found a couple printable options, the first place one on thingiverse requires a longer print as well as drilling into the top of your extruders. This is an issue especially if you can’t get your extruder to work very long. The 2nd option is a short print and it is held in by pushing it into the top gap. I will be experimenting with non printable options due to the lack of function I currently have on my extruders.

After spending part of the day attempting to fix the guide issue, I was finally able to find some 4mm ID tubing that I was able to wedge into the top of the extruder. So far it has held in place and is working great. I started printing out a slew of back logged items that needed to be finished. I’ve ran the machine about 3 hours total with each print about an hour each. I will probably run it for another hour or two before I call it a night. Hopefully I can pick right where I left off to make a dent in the back log.

Update: February 9th 2014
I’ve had no issues for the last week or two of almost non stop printing. Since the installation of the new dual extruder I have also installed an extended y axis. The new extended bed is very stable and thanks to the new upgraded 17.5″ chromed rods it has also proven to be more accurate. I am very impressed with the quality and repeatable great prints. A few more upgrades are planned and will be reported here.

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Taking Our Printrbot Plus To The Next Level

Update: January 11th 2013
Only a few more days until we start to transform our printrbot plus v2 into a mostly aluminum beast. We will also install our pb dual extruder production kit and the details of that will be documented under, “Dual extruder production version.” That way we can keep everything organized for easier referencing. The dual extruder production kit also has upgraded aluminum parts which will go nicely with these upgrades.

We have done a few upgrades to our printrbot plus V2 in order to get it ready for a quad extruder setup. GoldAugust helped us at RepRap Squad to come up with a solution that will take our printrbot plus to the next level. When you are talking about the added weight of more extruders, stability can become an issue because it can be a lot of weight to speed up as well as to slow down. The printrbot plus was obviously not designed with quad extruders in mind even though I believe the stock platform could handle it. I just don’t think it would be able to over a long period of time with constant use, without serious wear. The platform itself is a great base however and can easily be upgraded to handle the weight of 4 extruders, with at least 2 of them being direct drive. So we decided to address any weaknesses within the plus v2.
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While we have everything apart we might as well extend the y axis (bed). The new 8mm rods measure in at a little over 17 1/2″, this will translate into about 3 – 3 1/2+” of added usable print space in the y axis direction and the width staying almost stock at a little over 9″. My z axis had already been upgraded prior to give me about 16″+ of usable height. This will change the overall plus’s print space to about 16+x16x9 inches or 404x404x230 if you use mm.

Another upgrade that will take place is the upgrade of a few weak spots on the plus V2’s platform. Printrbot has already addressed most of these issues with the release of the plus v2.1. One of those upgrades is to change out all of the bearing block mounts to aluminum. The reason for this is simple, aluminum is light, strong and won’t warp within these operating conditions. I already upgraded the mounts that hold the z axis rods into place initially after building my plus. That leaves the y axis, z axis on the bridge (carriage) and the x axis. Taking on this challenge the designer, GoldAugust also wanted to figure out a setup for the x axis rod mounts as we as the nut traps for the z axis. The z axis nut traps have been known to allow slippage or in some cases binding.

With these upgrades this plus will be ready for its ultimate goal and that goal is eventually quadruple extruders. The aluminum parts will give it the added strength required to move as well as stop a much heavier carriage. Also we recently upgraded all of our motors to Kysans, which are definitely the best bang for your buck as they run very cool, high holding torque and are made of high quality parts.

I will also test out the running the smaller kysan motors on the extruders. They have less torque then the longer kysan motors but, they are also almost half the weight. This would allow me to use the larger kysans for the z axis, which would be better suited for any added weight. If the weight of the new aluminum parts is even a slight issue, we will redesign the parts with milled out pockets to shave of any weight that may be an issue. Really the only parts that may be effected by added weight would be the extruder mount (carriage or shuttle) as the z axis setup can more than handle the weight and it doesn’t have acceleration/deceleration kinetic energy that the extruder mount does. With the new extruder mount we will be getting rid of quite a few layers of wood as well, this will help eat up some of the weight difference.

GoldAugust is using Inventor to design all of these parts and from early design pictures I can tell he is very talented.

Here’s some of the designs created in inventor:

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Y-axis blocks

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X-axis "shuttle " this is where the extruder mounts to

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X-axis ends which includes mounts for the x rods, nut traps and set screws to adjust the rods

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Here's a better view of the X-axis rod ends where they meet the z-axis rods

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The milling has begun, this will be the y-axis bearing block

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This render shows what the upper section of the upgraded platform will look like

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After we test out the upgraded aluminum parts, GoldAugust will be selling kits as well as individual upgrades. We will be taking lots of pictures of the transformation as well as posting overall results from the upgrade. More then likely I will try to get access to a good camera to take some video of the new mods in action. We will also do a few before and after pics so you can see the difference.

I know that this will greatly affect stability and I hope to see this translated into a better overall print quality. As you may have noticed, Printrbot has changed a lot of the parts on all their printers to work with aluminum parts as they don’t warp under these operating conditions. The milled z axis nut traps will also make a huge difference as I like many have had issues with them moving or partially rotating during prints which does effect print quality.

None of this would have been possible without the help of GoldAugust and I must say he is one of the best at what he does. Check back often for updates on testing, new pics and all kinds of greet info related to this project.

Here are the first pictures of the prototype aluminum upgrade parts for the printrbot plus and LC v2. The x axis rod spacing is different on the Plus v2.1 so we will be making a second version for the Plus v2.1. The front plates have covers that can be custom ordered to make your printer truly yours. The ones pictured are just some samples of what we came up with. When GoldAugust starts to sell these we more than likely won’t be able to sell you covers with the printrbot logo as I’m pretty sure it’s under copywrite and we definitely wouldn’t want to step on any toes.

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These are the front plates that can be customized to make your style truly come out

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Here's my extended y axis which brings the overall length to 17.5"!!

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A thing of beauty!!

Eventually some of these add ons and mods will be available for sale through GoldAugust. We will not be able to sell anything that is of Printrbot’s designs due to copyright for non commercial use. We will however be coming out eventually with aluminum upgrades and extensions for the printrbot plus, LC V2’s and V2.1’s.

With all the interest and questions about these parts I’ve decided to add a few more pictures.
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I had to show that I'm a proud printrbot plus owner

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This is the right side of the x bridge with built in x rod mounts

I’ve added a few more pictures so you can get a better idea of how it goes together.
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Posted from RepRap Squad HQ

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