Sunday, June 10, 2012

SkyNet is almost here.

I've started building a 3D printer, and I've named him SkyNet.  He will be the first of many of his kind.

So, I've been watching 3D printer technology for a while now, and been dying to build one.  A 3D printer is a device that can take a computer model of something and 'print' it out in plastic.

You can spend 50k+ and buy a professional one, but the DIY ones are pretty slick, and I want a project I can keep making better.  Plus I don't have $50k.

Buying a kit can cost anywhere from $1000 to $4000, with most in the $1500 range.  Note that buying a kit seems to cost more than sourcing the parts yourself (duh, they have to make some money), and as far as I can tell, I saved more than $500 gathering up the parts myself.  Yeah, I've still spent a bunch of money, but it's also been purchases over several months, so it's hasn't been as onerous.

Here's what I'm building.  A MendelMax 1.5  The Bill of Materials (BOM), I'm using is at KitBom.

The 1.5 is fairly new, and there aren't really many good instructions yet.  Techpaladin has a set of instructions, but it seems to be mostly for a MendelMax 1.0.   Here's a pic of most of the parts:

Right now, a 3D printer can print something like 20-40% of itself.  In fact, a friend of mine, Morien Thomas, has an Ordbot and printed some parts out for me, which is super cool of him.

In theory, it could print more, but plastic nuts and bolts are just asking for trouble.  I've used something like 100 M5 stainless steel bolts in putting mine together (so far.)

I've also been playing with Arduinos lately, and the 3D printer hardware is based on an Arduino Mega 2560, and since I've been a coder for 30 years, I'm planning to see what I can do to optimize the firmware.

In any case, I used Misumi extrusions and put together most of the frame today...

more to come.

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