Friday, December 14, 2012

An idea for a 3D Printer

Ok, an idea...
The idea here is to create a printer that uses an x/y stage like an FDM machine. On the Z-Axis, there will be a mechnism for depositing a UV-curable resin. This resin can be cured quicky by the placement of a UV light source pointed from the deposition head. The depositor can be comprised of one or more piezo print heads. These print heads can either be re-purposed from inkjet cartridges, or built independantly (Parameterized Printable Inkjet Head

Design Goals
One design goal is to have a very accurate and fast X/Y stage, while the Z-stage needs to have micron accuracy(hopefully). The real question is the emission rate of the UV resin from then depositor/emitter? The UV polymer liquid I have is very thick at room temperature, but becomes very viscous when heated. I need to investigate the frequency and amplitude of the driver circuitry to be able to vary the rate of deposition of the polymer. I also need an accurate measure of material consumed.
I may need a heater element to pre-heat the UV resin in the emitter
I may need a peristoltic pump to pump the resin into the emitter.
I'll need to either alter my makerbot, fix up my rep-rap and reprogram it, or hopefully build a new Type-A machine that I've been waiting to cut.

I will need a way to activate/set the rate of this emitter.
Can it be done through G-code commands.
For multiple emitters, can I specify a line's worth of data and an origin/vector with parameters such as dpi and have the firmware do the rest?

I will have to write my own slicer or modify an existing slicer program to support he new Gcode commands.

Color and format
If I go the route of using inkjet printer cartridges, I can support full-color printing with the addition of multiple print cartridges. It may be worthwhile to reverse-engineer a print head that supports multiple colors and multiple line emitters (8x 16x 24x) for each color.

If I can devise modifications and additional commands to G/M code, then I can specify commands to define a line of data in a format, the format of that data (Dots per inch, number of samples, color format of each sample, UV resin deposition can be treated like another color channel, deposition rate )

I could write my own firmware, or modify some other FW for Arduino-based devices.
Additionally, I can use my Raspberyy Pi computer at a front- panel compter. This RaspPi will control the Arduino or printer controller card that interprets the gcode.

This RaspPi could act as a print-server, controlling lights, camera, prividing a front-panel GUI on the composite LCD with a control button panel. The RaspPi cound be a network print server over TCP/IP

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