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3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all

Posted by Squags 
3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 06:41AM
Good morning everyone,

Would you like to own the most versatile numerically controlled machine on the planet? Would you also like to help develop it? If so, read on and meet '3D4all'

So, here's the vision:
A gantry style frame more like a typical laser cutter, moving over a working area about the size of A3 paper. The frame will have to be boxed in, preferably with easy access folding sides for the interchangeable heads. The bed will also have to be adaptable, with removable heating element, a grid for laser cutting and a heated bucket and roller system for (hopefully) 3d laser sintering/3DP... read on....
Interchangeable x axis carriers for different purposes:

Plastic extruder - 1.75mm setup that we're all familiar with from our beloved 3d repraps. Ideally with 3-4 extruder heads with independent temperature control

Paste extruder - for ceramics, metal pastes etc (will later need firing, as far as I know). A few adaption kits for this already exist, eg: [www.thingiverse.com], and people on this forum seem to have a lot of experience and are getting good results.

Laser cutter (Probably CO2), although a diode engraving option would be a simpler first start adapter option. The CO2 laser is still the most expensive part of this setup - check ebay for prices and remember to include matching power supply as these are pricey too. Other possible additions in this mode are the need for water cooling (of laser) and fume extraction from cabinet. Several such projects exist: [www.thingiverse.com] , [www.buildlog.net]. I envisage this branch of development going slower, as the price point of entry is higher. I think I'm right in saying that the cost of lasers has fallen considerably in the last decade; so I imagine there'll come a time when more powerful laser options become possible for more people.

Selective Laser sintering printing - also probably using C02. This is a further iteration from the laser cutter. If I've understood correctly, the biggest adaptation required is that the bed has 2 rectangular buckets, one of which supplies powder, which is rolled over the surface of the 2nd bucket. The laser then sinters the pattern on that required layer before the 2nd bucket sinks down through the table by a layer.The powder also has to be preheated. There are a few laser sintering projects already out there: [www.thingiverse.com] , [www.thingiverse.com] , [www.thingiverse.com] . If anyone has enough money for a really big laser, it would be great to get this to work with metal powders, for a seriously useful tool.

3DP - powder printing with a laser printer cartridge. This is a further iteration from the sls printing above. This uses an alcohol/water (or similar) binder to loosely hold together a powder (I believe metals are possible). From what I've read, I think the resulting fragile form is then fired in a kiln. Industrially it seems that a second material (bronze for example) is fired alongside the printed metal form, in order to reduce porosity. An example of such a project is here: [www.thingiverse.com]

CNC router mill. I'm not certain about this addition as it will result in reactive forces and will therefore need a stronger frame from the beginning.... what do people think? An apparently suitable frame looks like this: [www.ebay.co.uk]

Obviously, not everyone will want every attachment, but if the reprap community were to work together with standardised frame, motors, controller board and dimensions, then we could develop each system in parallel, which could be refined into an affordable add-on for the others.

All of these functions have been proven before by the reprap community (see relevant forum pages), but compatibility has some way to go. Ideally as an end point for this project, I would like us to have developed the most versatile affordable numerically controlled tool in the world, which can be broken down into modules, each with clear instructions, BOM and ideally kits available. This would allow someone with a 3d extruder printer to buy a proven add-on, download some software and automatically be able to enter the world of laser cutting, for example.

Rules - everything must be open-source and comply with the reprap open source principles.

What I have to offer besides this idea:
I'm a mechanical engineer from the UK, with previous experience in basic hardware/software development in the music festival circuit (see: [www.arcadiaspectacular.com]) and I have also worked as a field engineer on offshore oil platforms, where my work was essentially trouble shooting complex hardware/software systems just above rocky seas! I also previously worked in various manufacturing environments from the clean room of an injection moulding setup to my neighbours shed, in which I soldered electrical bits together for a couple of years. I'm currently doing a part time masters course at university of science and technology in Germany. If there's sufficient interest for 3D4all here on this forum and among the reprap community, I plan to try and persuade the university to help me (practical project sponsorship, funding for materials etc). If that works, I might find enough material to squeeze a masters thesis out of this as well, meaning I could work on it almost full time for up to 18 months. My experience with reprap only extends to having bought and built a Ormerod from Reprappro over Christmas and got it to work pretty well.

What I need from the reprap community:
Initially, a working group for frame/basic electrical design. Getting both of these parts right is crucial if the project is to succeed... The frame needs to be adaptable enough to incorporate all future modifications and the controller board/software interface likewise. My strengths don't extend to code writing and other than plugging together my Ormerod, I don't have much experience of controller boards - would we need to build one from scratch, or would the Arduino duet or something similar work (possibly with extension boards for more motor drivers etc)?

Later on, if this project is to evolve past 'just another reprap extruder printer', I'll need people with experience from all the technologies listed above to engage in 3D4all, ideally by building/buying a basic kit and developing each extension to a good state of usability to make it accessible to other users.

So... how does that sound? - Want to be part of the most versatile numerically controlled tool in history?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/17/2014 06:56AM by Squags.
Re: 3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 10:25AM
How is your design/vision different than all the other all-in-one does-everything designs? As mentioned in past threads, often the all-in-one idea has to compromise in some way in order to stay versatile, where a dedicated machine could be enhanced. For instance, the 3D head you want light weight for speed in positioning rapidly, but you'll need something very rigid for the forces involved in milling. Usually those two things go against each other.

Can't give you any specific assistance, but in order to be a success, you have to be different then the dozen(s) of other designs, or at least why is your design better and what problems does it overcome from previous designs.
Re: 3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 12:32PM
Thanks for your reply. Forgive me if it's been tried before. I must admit to having only been on this forum for a couple of months (and mostly in the Ormerod department) and/so haven't personally seen any similar suggestions; though if there are any machines/threads you could point me to it would be great to learn from their experiences.

You're right that for CNC milling the frame would need to be more robust and therefore heavier than ideal than for everything else - hence why I put a question mark beside whether provision should be included.

I have seen a lot of people making bespoke modifications for one particular 3d plastic extrusion printer to be able to do one of the examples mentioned in my post above, i.e. paste extrusion. What I haven't yet seen is a desire to make 1 easy to use machine onto which such a wide variety of attachments (currently 5) could be used; ideally with one dedicated piece of software with different tabs to operate it in each of the various modes.
Re: 3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 01:46PM
Definitely an FAQ... creating an all-in-one machine is a perennially attractive idea. Creating a multipurpose machine is kind of like the search for the Holy Grail. Of course it could be done, but the physics of the different applications mean that you either have to compromise on performance, or increase the cost a lot to create a machine with a superset of the required performance.

Strangely, the demand for hybrid machines is less than you might expect. Everyone wants good, or cheap, preferably both, but much less people want multifunction, at least not if it increase cost or reduces quality. It's interesting to consider that out of all the 3d printers, CNC mills and laser cutters on the market, I can only think of one hybrid machine that is commercially available.

Clearly there is a lot of overlap, so the electronics and firmware could be common. I find it difficult to see how to combine the mechanics into one box, but that is not my area of expertise. That said, I would quite like a pick and place machine that can also do solder paste and soldering.

However you approach it, I think it would be an interesting project.

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Re: 3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 02:10PM
Thanks for your reply. Forgive me if it's been tried before. I must admit to having only been on this forum for a couple of months (and mostly in the Ormerod department) and/so haven't personally seen any similar suggestions; though if there are any machines/threads you could point me to it would be great to learn from their experiences.
I was searching for something yesterday and happened to stumble upon this thread. I know I've read other posts maybe not specifically for making a machine from the ground up to be multi-functional, but more along the lines of "Can my 3d printer also mill" or "Can my mill also 3d print". Mix and match mill, print, sinter, lase, slice, dice, jullien, get me laid, etc. I know when the bug first bit me my first inclination was to think "Well, the movement is really similar for printing, milling, and cutting with a laser, I can make a machine to do all three!" but then reality sets in as to what the obstacles are for use.

As Bobc kinda aluded to above: price, performance, quality - choose 2. And usually for "hobby" projects like Reprap, price is often already chosen for you.

Don't let all the above discourage you. Maybe it is possible. And maybe you and others can at least advance things. Maybe towards your product, maybe towards inclusion with someone elses. That's one of the benefits of open sourced hardware.
Re: 3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 02:17PM
... I've converted several CNC-mills for 3D-printing and laser-cutting/engraving.

With stepper motors the best speed/acceleration values are far below the capabilities of dedicated 3D-printers, most caused by the spindles-drives in contrary to the faster toothbelts, bigger inertia with the heavy axes, and resonancy-problems.

With servos the speed/acceleration situation is better, but here the cost is higher than with steppers.

When converting a 3D-printer for milling you'll need a much more rigid frame than with the common systems - Conrad presents a 3D-printer with (future) optional kits for milling and laser-engraving: [www.conrad.de]

... but here too the compromise rises the costs compared to a standard 3D-printer, but can't reach common CNC-milling specs ...

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Re: 3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 05:57PM
this tech is very much NOT for all, this part of the hype is getting sooooooo old.
Re: 3D4all... New CNC/printer idea - 3D4all
February 17, 2014 06:43PM
My all in one machine, the Ifactory is nearly done. I have been milling parts for some time, the lathe is nearly complete, and the 3D printer head is installed and I've nearly finished the wiring, next weekend should do it. What did it cost? My wife says north of 20K, but she exaggerates, and I'm afraid to add it up!


So what costs so much? If you want to run this thing in your house you need to have it enclosed. That means lights, and doors, and chip pans. If you want speed and accuracy that is big motors and THK ball slides, and ball screws. You need motor mounts and adapter plates too. To move fast you need weight so there is 205 lbs of cast iron in the table, and another 150 in the X braced aluminum frame. You want to cut aluminum, using a tiny spindle gets old real fast and aluminum welds to the tool bit with heavier cuts unless you are running coolant. So a bigger faster spindle, but also a slower high torque one for steel. Flood coolant and mist coolant both make a real mess. So I built a fog buster coolant system, and that takes an air compressor, and solenoid valves. Unless your tooling is repeatable for length you spend lots of time setting tool lengths instead of watching it run, so that takes tool holders. The amount of wiring required for a multi-purpose machine is unbelievable. If you don't want electrical problems you are talking a lot of shielded cable. Then there is the heated bed for the printing, and vises for holding milling work, and lots of different kinds of clamps to hold things down, along with all the screws, nuts etc. You can't make what you can't measure, so that's edge finders, calipers, dial indicators, etc. Then there is software, Mach 3, Cambam, AutoCAD, Rhino, etc. Not to mention a slicer, the PC that runs the machine, the keyboard and monitor. The lathe means a toolpost and more tooling, and you need a tool chest and plastic bins to hold all this stuff. To keep the mess from moving into the house means a good shop vac with a chip separator and a long hose.

I only wanted a simple machine to make stuff with my grandson! What is it that you want?
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