I'm constantly building projects that would benefit the use of small parts, many of which could be created on a 3d printer. After much research, I decided to build a Prusa I3 clone. There are many kits with all the required parts available on Amazon and elsewhere. I investigated kits or acquiring parts piecemeal and I found out it's actually cheaper to go the kit route. Therefore I decided to acquire the parts one by one through various sources such as Amazon and eBay. Makes sense, huh? I decided that building a printer from the ground up would be more of a challenge and I would learn a lot more about 3d printers and the art of printing parts.
On youtube.com I found a 3d printer guru out of Germany, Thomas Sanladerer, who built a Prusa clone while video taping the entire process live. His playlist for this project can be found at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDJMid0lOOYkdh8jCqIw7AFIHQiuKbSKZ.
This will be an ongoing project and as I make progress on the project, I document the results here.
A Bill of materials for this project:
23 March 2017
A scaled drawing of the frame can be dounloaded from https://toms3d.org/wp-content/plugins/download-attachments/includes/download.php?id=1427. The frame can be built from various materials such as aluminum, sheet metal or plywood. I built mine from 3/4 inch plywood because the frame needed to be strong and dimensionally stable. When printing out the drawing, make sure the image is printed at 370mm x 370mm or 14-9/16 inch square. The outside part is the vertical frame and the inside part is the "frog" or the platform to which the printer bed will be attached. The frog will travel in and out of the printer and represents the Y-axis. Here is my version:
25 March 2017
First major assembly completed, the Y axis:
30 March 2017
I've been a little lax about posting updates. I finished the X-axis assembly, mounted the Z-axis servos and threaded rod for Z positioning and mounted the X-axis assembly on the Z support rods. Thinking the frame may not be rigid enough, I mounted a plywood base and some side supports, creating more of a box type frame. The side supports also provide more room to mount the power supply and electronics. Tomorrow the inductive Z probe arrives and I can start wiring everything. Unfortunately, the Ramps 1.4 board, Arduino Mega and LCD are coming from China and I will be finished with the build long before they arrive. I may have to order the electronics from a domestic source so I can start playing.
The X and Z axis assemblies mounted on the frame.
Closeup view of the X servo, X endstop and extruder assembly.
The 12 volt 30 amp power supply mounted on the frame support.
6 April 2017
The printer is pretty much complete except for a little tidying up. Here it is printing the first part, a power bracket for the printer itself. I designed the bracket with AutoCad's Fusion 360.
18 April 2017
I've had a couple of issues with the printer as I've started to print larger and larger items. It seems after an hour or so the Y layer will shift, sometimes dramatically. I adjusted the stepper motor current and loosened up the Y drive belt, but that didn't seem to do much. I decided that the Y stepper was getting too hot so I attached a heat sink to it with using copious amounts of heat sink compound and cable ties. It's not elegant, but works great. I also aligned the two 8mm rods in the Y axis to make sure they are parallel. Now the Y stepper, which drives the greatest amounts of mass (the bed assembly) in the printer is the coolest stepper in the machine, never reaching 60c.
Here's a print in progress. It's a box to house my APRS modem. At this stage it has been printing over 3 hours and going strong.
As a footnote, I have to create an enclosure for the APRS modem because I stole the Raspberry Pi from the APRS project and substituted it with an old Linux appliance. I'm now using the Raspberry Pi to run the printer with OctoPi.