Monday, April 7, 2014

Mill conversion

So after running into a little money, I picked up a cheap Chinese mill from Ebay, it's a CNC 3040. Mills like this are built with a parallel port for interfacing with desktop computers under programs like Mach3.

After verifying the hardware was fully functional, I decided to do a little 'upgrading'. I wanted to be able to run this mill off of my "Creation Workshop" software, so I took the time to build an interface cable to plug the DB25 connecter of the parallel port to connect directly to an Arduino board. This Arduino is running a fairly stock version of the 'Sprinter' firmware.

After a little tweaking and configuring a new profile in Creation Workshop, I was able to run a few GCode files on the mill.

As far as Creation Workshop goes, I have been building lots of new versions and adding new features recently. Instead of posting new versions on github, I've been posting to my forum for better visibility and faster turnaround.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New DLP build started! / Pico-projector part 3

I keep saying this, but it's been too long a time since I updated my project blog. It's not for the lack of progress mind you. Things have been very busy for me lately. I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I started a new forum dedicated to all things DLP/SLA . I have to say, never expected the explosion of interest! It's only been up for less than 2 months, but there are hundreds of active users (and about 1000 spammers).

Creation Workshop continues to advance rapidly, largely due to the herculean efforts of the co-programmer Shai (Thanks man!) . I've had a lot of interest with DLP/SLA printer manufacturers wanting to distribute Creation Workshop along with their printers, and I've been signing them on rapidly. I've devised a plug-in system that allows me to create vendor plug-ins to completely customize the GUI and code for each machine. It also allows me to distribute custom machine and slicing profiles tailored to each machines unique capabilities.

I've been talking with a bunch of groups/ start-ups/ companies about their machines for months, and I'm in a pretty unique position to see exactly what's going to be coming out on the market this upcoming year. I'm under NDA with a few of them, so let's just say that 2014 will be the rise of the SLA machine in the 3d printing world.

That all being said, I've been giving some thought as to how to create the 'Best' machine possible. 'Best' is an arbitrarily chosen words really. 'Balanced' would be a better descriptor. As I noted elsewhere , there will always be tradeoffs between build size, resolution, and print speed. I think I've come upon a good balance between the 3.

What I came up with is a pico-projector mounted on an x/y linear assembly. The projector can expose smaller image tiles on a much larger vat bottom. This allows the pico-projector to maintain a 25micron (or greater) x/y resolution. The vat can be arbitrarily large. This is a good trade-off between size and print speed.

I'm still in the early stages of the build, but it's all coming along nicely.
New parts for the build
Shown above are a few parts I'm using for the build. Here's an incomplete BOM of items so far:
  • 12v 6A power supply
  • 5x Nema 17 steppers (I'll probably use 4)
  • 12x LMU88 linear bearings
  • 6 meters of GTK belt and 4 pulleys
  • 10W UV LED 405nm on an alum heatsink
  • Modified AAXA P2JR DLP projector
  • 3' of 1/8 hose for the resin pump
  • 3 prong outlet
  • Mains switch
  • Printed 3 way corner brackets for the 80/20 construction
  • 4 printed feet

A bunch of 350mm and 300mm 25mm 80/20 aluminum.

The constructed bottom portion of the machine. Measures 350x350mm.

I'm still waiting on a few more parts in mail:

  • Arduino 2560 with RAMPs board
  • 8mm hardened steel rails
  • 8mm threaded rod
  • UV transmissive plexiglass for the vat
  • UV blocking plexiglass for the outer casing/window
  • Other things I forgot

I'm probably going to do a bit more construction today. Look for the next part of this build soon.