A printer of my own making

After learning so much about 3d printer, I am excited to continue. My current printer can make some pretty nice things, but it is limited in the size that it can make. There are many things that I would like to print that it just isn’t quite big enough. After doing some research of printer designs, I have decided to build me a CoreXY style printer. The first step was to design the XY section. There will be two stepper motors with two belts and pulleys to control the XY motion. I am building it out of 2020 extruded shapes but instead of using aluminum I am trying to do it with all printed pieces. This may not work, but it is worth a try.

The first corner assembled.
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All corners assembled, motors go in the bottom, pulleys in the top.
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Making more struts. One failed, but with several like this removing the failed one will allow the others to finish. It takes hours to print, so the loss of one is worth trying to continue anyways.
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Mistakes happen

Throughout the learning process more often than not you will end up with a blob of plastic. Maybe the settings weren’t right for the model, or it was too difficult for the printer to print. In this case, it was a model I had modified for the corner of a new printer and it had an error in it. The printer didn’t care that it was impossible to print, it tried anyways. The result was the mess you see here.

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My own designs

After downloading many objects that were already made, I have started learning how to modify designs and make my own. I am now at the level where I can measure basic objects and duplicate them with my printer.

I designed these clips to hold the glass. They take up much less space than the binder clips I had been using.
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This plug was an existing design that I modified. I purchased a plug on Amazon, measured it, and modified the mount to fit. Worked perfectly the first time.
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Print all the things!

In it’s new location I continued to improve and print as many things as I could find. Not many more improvements were made to the printer directly as it had now reached a point where it was reliably finishing prints without too much issue. Not going to label each picture here, but these were among the things I have made recently.

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Printers new location

Now that the printer was in good working order, I have moved it to my my office. The first order of business is to build replacement parts. Parts break all the time so I want to have extras on hand. If a part ever breaks, I should be able to put a replacement part on and then immediately create a new replacement. This is one of the X carriage ends.

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A new nozzle, and the evolution of a mini

One of the things I would like to do with the printer is to make gaming miniatures. It turns out that making small detailed objects is a fairly difficult task for a 3d printer to do. It takes very good heat control to avoid making a blob. To get enough control I had to change the nozzle to a different design, as well as add an additional cooling fan. This had the negative side effect of making the printer fairly loud. On the plus side, it made the printer much more accurate for smaller objects.

The first attempts. The feet slowly went from puddles to the beginnings of legs.
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Some fine tuning and I eventually came up with this blob like figure. The first that was able to complete to the end.
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The new nozzle and fan ducts printing the figure.
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The result, something that looks much nicer!
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More parts being made

Making some of the final parts before moving the printer off the table. My girlfriend was very tolerant of the huge mess that I made on the table for the several weeks that it took waiting for parts and getting it running.

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Printing useful objects

Once I calibrated the printer properly and verified I was making pieces in the proper dimension, the next step was to start improving the printer. Many things I had simply stuck together with hot glue and things I had lying around. The endstop supports and endstop flags were one of these things, made out of a cut up credit card and glue. Another issue I was facing was the ability to feed the plastic into the machine. I had the roll sitting next to it and would have to untangle it by hand every few minutes. To fix this, I printed a support for the roll that I still use today.

Endstop mount.
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Endstop flags.
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Spool mount in progress.
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Spool mounted above the printer.
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Getting it running

The first thing was to take inventory of what was there. I made a list of everything I had, and compared it to the list of parts that the printer should have. Once I figured out what I needed to make the printer minimally functional, I order a few things and put it together. These pictures here show the printer from getting it set up to printing test cubes.

This picture shows the printer after I have installed the heated bed on the Y axis. Other than that, this is how I received it.
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This picture was taken after I debugged the control board, compiled a new firmware image for it and had it communicating with my laptop.
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The first ever object to come out of the printer. Pretty messy, but close to what I was trying to print.
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These are the first three cubes to come out of the printer. From left to right it was three days of learning and fine tuning. By the third cube, it was pretty close to the size and shape it was supposed to be.
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The start of my 3d printer

My 3d printer was given to me by a friend. It was a partially assembled setup, and it included a bag full of parts. I’ve gone from having zero experience with a 3d printer, to having assembled and improved this one, and now I am building a larger one by adapting existing designs into something I like. Throughout the process I have taken several pictures and videos. In the next several days I will be writing a series of posts on my experience with 3d printing.