I have nearly finished building a small CNC plasma table, tests with a pen show it to be very accurate in it's movements and I was wondering what it would take to go to a 3D printer.
I have Mach3 up and running and the XYZ axes all seem very nicely tuned.
I guess it would obviously need a print head and psu but what else???
There's quite a bit of info if you search about the net, here's just 2
Converting a CNC Machine to a 3D Printer | powered by gnexlab
3D Printing on a CNC Router Mach3 EmcSpelling mistakes are not intentional, I only seem to see them some time after I've posted
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Thanks for that.
I'm amazed so far, seems like I just need a print head - £50, some 1.75mm filament - £25/kg, a psu for the heater plus controller - junk box items and kissslicer software - free.
Unless I have missed something out, it appears that's about it for a bolt-on conversion????
I'm interested in this myself so looking forward to seeing your conversion.
One thing that might stand in the way is the Z axis travel, it might need a new lighter weight Z added that has a good travel, of course then you are restricted by the gantry height.Spelling mistakes are not intentional, I only seem to see them some time after I've posted
Heated bed is no problem, I have junk-box kit that will cover that easily for a bed around 200x250mm.
I realise Z travel is a factor, if I pull the floating head off, I have 100mm to play with which for what I currently have in mind is plenty.
My Z travel is 0.01mm per step without micro-stepping which seems to be well in the ballpark of what others are using. Cant find much regarding the XY travel resolution yet but I have a strong feeling this machine will be ideal.
I built a 3D printer a couple of years ago, before I built the CNC router. I'd got the bug...
Positioning accuracy doesn't have to be that great to get usable results although as with all such things, better accuracy and machine stiffness shows up in finished surface quality. Hot end is fairly easy to make if you have access to fairly simple machining facilities, or you can just buy one, but you will need an extruder to drive the filament through the hot end. There are a number of standard designs, most intended to be printed themselves.
I wonder if you will be able to get away with your current controller, though. One key aspect of 3D fused-filament printing is that you need to very accurately control filament extrusion rate with XY movement and I don't think that that's something Mach3 or LinuxCNC will know how to do. Most people use dedicated controller hardware based on the Arduino such as the Sanguinololu and running software like Sprinter. There's lots more to be discovered at reprap.org, and the forums for specific questions.
Probably easiest to use the CNC router to build one of the later design printers, tempting though "just swap spindle for extruder" might be!
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It's hardly worth making a head, there are 0.3mm extruders complete on eBay for less than £50.
there does seem to be a way forwards with mach3 as there are several bolt on type builders using their large CNC routers for 3d work just by slapping the extruder next to the router.
there is some slicing software "kiss slicer" that seems to have a direct connection to mach3 via its code creation so maybe it can be done easily, I really don't want to get into arduino et al just yet.
keeping on with the research...
I'm not a Mach3 user, so I'm pretty out of touch with what it can do over and above the basics. From what I read, though, it's interesting that there seem to be more add-ons for a piece of commercial software than for something open-source like LinuxCNC. 3D printing is a pretty obvious area to extend it.
For me, the interesting bit of the printer was building the thing, and just buying bits would have taken all the fun out of it! But then, I've just designed and built a microprocessor temperature controller for an old soldering iron I rescued from a skip, when I could have gone out and bought one from Maplin for, relatively speaking, peanuts. I used my 3D printer to make bits for the router, and I'm now thinking about a new and improved printer that I could build now I have the router available - or maybe I just need to build the mk2 router first and do a better job... I know I could build a seriously good extruder with CNC machining available!
Be interesting to see what you discover in your researches, and where the crossover points between additive and subtractive machining are these days.
Hmm, it seems that it really is that easy!
There is this head on the 'bay -
0.3mm Nozzle Extruder Print Head for RepRap 3D Printer Feed ABS 1.75mm UK STOCK | eBay
Will need an old ATX psu for the 12v heater supply probably.
And the temp control will have to be manual in that it is not controlled by the CNC, simple PID controllers, one for a bed and one for the hot end.
Fans will also be manual control.
Great software is found in "Slic3r" a very smart bit of open source coding, that takes .stl files and converts them into code suitable for Mach3 systems, I have tested this today and the code generated makes sense and can be read easily so my Mach3 setup should have no issues digesting it.
I will need to add another drive board for my unused "A" axis, this feeds the filament out. Will possibly need another psu but as the head only has a very small motor, I might try using the "Z" axis output on my existing psu.
That seems to be about it, the rest is just a learning curve in tweaking settings to get it all to play ball.
Need to decide to go for PLA or ABS filament too, ABS seems a bit cheaper.
Slic3r also has a great help manual as well.
Last edited by Davek0974; 14-02-2014 at 10:08 AM.
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