My new 3D Printer
3D printing is an interesting topic – after fiddling with a Stepcraft 3D printing head at work, I decided I needed a machine at home to learn the complete process – while milling 2D parts is easy to get into, the 3D printing process still has lots edges, especially when you limit yourself to open-source CAD software.
When Hobbyking started selling the Turnigy Mini Fabricator, I was lucky to get an order in when it was available from the EU warehouse – for about 230€, the machine is small (~8cm*8cm*8cm build volume), but produces nice results.
Here it is (photo shows the current state with all the modifications):
First print results are quite nice – however, after the first longer print (>1 hour), things started to go wrong: the X-axis stepper motor got so hot it melted its mounting plate. That was when I discovered this long, but helpful thread in the RCGroups forums. After fixing the melted motor mount, I adjusted the motor currents to sensible values and added fans:
The bottom fan mount is a combination of a milled FR-4 plate, and 3D-printed foots that clamp to the bottom of the printer:
Fortunately, the PCB has enough spare connectors for endstop-switches that can provide 5V for the fan.
Next on the TO-DO list is a filament spool holder. I wanted something flexible that can adapt to different spool sizes, so I decided to not use the center hole of the spool, and instead built this:
The 3D printed parts match the round rubber feet I had available, while the threaded rods allow adjustment for different spool sizes.
Next was the addition of a small 30mm fan to cool the y-axis stepper motor:
The fan is simply attached with double-sided adhesive tape, with a small patch of cardboard below to guide the airflow.
For slicing, i use Repetier Host with Cura – this works. Designing the 3D objects is a different matter. So far, I had success using:
- SolveSpace. A nice parametric 3D cad – has some limitations, but the constraint solver is quite nice, allowing later modification of dimensions.
- FreeCad. Works fine as long as you only do small changes to a finished construction.
- OpenSCAD. This is a programming language for 3D objects. Takes some getting used to, but you can easily generate scripts that generate models in multiple sizes/configurations.