Project: 3D Printer
Heralded as one of the strongest signs of a new industrial age, a time where one no longer depends on the production facilities of large corporations, a time where one just scans and prints whatever one needs, the 3D printer has made somewhat of a splash in the last couple of years. Technically, the little layering plastic extruders have been around for ages, but only recently have the relevant patents run out and people have started making 3D printers en mass. Accordingly I decided to make one myself.
I present to you iteration one and two: Iteration I started it’s life as a Kossel Mini and has since then accidentally melted while waiting in a car, rebuilt completely and modified considerable. It now now lives at my friend’s house in Germany. Iteration two started its life as a kit of stepper motors and other bits on taobao (the Chinese version of ebay) and has been supplemented and modified to work with the level of accuracy and reliability I was aiming for (upgraded end-stops, induction bed leveling probe, improved hotend + fan shroud setup etc. etc.). Oh, and it also looks pretty neat I think:
Regarding that last picture, allow me to simply quote Rick Sanchez (Rick & Morty): “Well sometimes Sciences is more Art than Science, Morty. A lot of people don’t get that.” Both printers are deltas, which means that, rather than working with a moving, square platform to the x-axis and an extruder head that moves in only two axis, this kind of 3D printer uses a fixed printbed and three arms to move the extruder head around in all three dimensions. On the downside one ends up with a slightly bigger construction, on the upside, one is able to print considerably bigger (particularly taller) prints than with other printers. There’s clearly a pretty drawn out learning curve to this, on the hard- as well as on the software side of the project. And as so often, the more one screws up, the more one learns about the technology. But once one got it to “work” it’s an incredibly useful tool for any hacker/maker etc. Whether one needs a new case for a raspberry pi, a new frame part for a drone, or a neat little gift (one can design and print wonderful vases with this), as long as you can design it, you can print it.
With regards to the “production revolution” however, it should be noted that the capabilities of these printers are very very limited. Even if one buys a ready-made one, if one does not also invest considerable time learning how to design and print 3D models properly, the amount of useful things one can print is somewhat limited. Nevertheless, I believe this to be an incredibly useful technology and I am looking forward to times where it becomes even easier to enter and even better at producing reliable results at very low cost. With a couple more years of development this should become a household staple for everyone.