Large Format FDM 3D Printer

Aug 12’ – Jan 13’

Introduction:

The Large Format FDM 3D Printer was a personal project to aid in the building and design of various other projects. After knowing about 3D printers for
about 10 years I thought it would finally be time to build one for myself given the lower cost of components and better available open source
software to run the printer.


Specifications:

It was chosen to use Vexta Nema 17 motors with .9
Degree step angle for added precision without the use of micro stepping. The microcontroller used for the printer is an off brand Arduino Mega and for ease of use and a 3axis stepper driver TB6560 was used. A Makerbot MK7 extruder was used for depositing the filament because it was available to use at no cost. By arranging two stepper motors for the X axis the printer is able to produce a large print area without the complexity of running pulleys across the machine.


Build Process:

The main printer layout was designed in Solidworks before the construction of it began. Multiple designs were made, but the design shown was shown to be the most practical to build and operate. The frame was constructed out of 80/20 aluminum extrusions and used threaded bolts to hold the frame pieces together. This allowed for minimal parts to construct the frame and allows for disassembly if need be. Next the rest of the mechanical system was constructed, including the 3D printed linear rods holders and milled HDPE bearing block holders. Using a 3D printer and 3axis mill, specialized parts reduce the material usage in construction of the printer by using ideal design. The electronics used were low cost, off the shelf components. The downside of the low cost components was additional work to interface the parts together, including software and lots of jumper wires.


Concluding Remarks:

The printer has proven to be a great tool to have in the workshop. Allowing for the printing of custom connects for other projects such as the spot welder. Future improvements on the machine may include using larger stepper motors to allow for faster travel of the X and Y- axis. Currently the printer speed is limited to less than 45mm/s and for very large prints that the machine is capable of, the print time may be overly excessive.