Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile

Advanced

where to start building a custom printer

Posted by me3dmt 
where to start building a custom printer
October 24, 2013 07:26AM
hi

we're 4 mechanical engineering students in our 3rd year at university in London (UK).
our project this year is to design, and build a customised 3d printer (based on the reprap).
the printer needs to be able to print multiple materials (like the mendel tricolour), but instead of some kind of plastic (pla/abs) it must used food pastes.

because we havent done much programming (one member knows C/Python to a self-described intermediate level), we're not really sure where to start. we're starting to think we've bitten off more than we can chew - especially considering we have very little time for this project.

anyway

we'd greatly appreciate if someone could point us in the right direction with a few things...

from what we understand CAD files are converted to .stl and then converted to Gcode. This is then sent to the printer and is read by the firmware, which controls the printer. (is this correct).

Say we were to heavily modify a reprap, where exactly do we need to modify the software? Can we still use Gcode, and then modify the firmware?
How difficult is it to modify the firmware? Is it all written in C?
could we feasibly build our own firmware from scratch?



Thanks a lot for your help.

PS We have ZERO reprap experience. One of us has some arduino experience.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/24/2013 07:58AM by me3dmt.
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 24, 2013 04:59PM
What kind of design project is a knock off of a rep rap?
3rd year in elementry school?

See the development of the Morgan, Simpson, Wally printers, SCARA arm printers?

System Engineer your Printer
Stakeholders, Needs, Conop, Requirements, Validation, Design, Review, Development, I&T, Verification, Delivery

or you could just do it like Obamacare roll out here in the USA and have a big Turd.

Hey open source Firmware(Marlin) / software (Repetier) running on arduino/RAMPS - PC is a no brainer,
kids in 9th grade over here do it.

Go out to a show with printers or watch youtube videos.

Squirting one paste easy ---- multi pastes -- a whole subsystem on your printer!!!

Design something don't just copy what everybody has done before!!!!

Look at all the designs Nick Seward
[www.conceptforge.org]

Have Phun
grinning smiley
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 24, 2013 05:40PM
My best advice is to buy a kit that you have to put together yourself. Make sure there is a lot of community support for the kit. I would suggest Prusa i3 or a Printrbot Simple.

This will help you learn about 3D printing in a safe way. If you are new to printing and are making a new machine, it is hard to figure out what is going wrong.

I would say steal what you can and design what you can't. The first machine is just to get it working. The second machine is to fix all of your problems.

Also, search for Universal Paste Extruder.

Best of luck and feel free to use me as a resource.
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 25, 2013 04:28AM
thanks for those tips.
the difference between our printer and what has already been designed is that we need to print using multiple foods and we need to print something quite complex (not a chocolate bar or cookie).
and we have a time frame of 6 months (not including our other course work).

We appreciate your offer of advice etc. we'll be sure to ask you more questions when we have some
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 25, 2013 09:39AM
Honestly? You guys are in for a tough 6 months. I won't say it's not doable, but it won't be easy with the direction you're currently headed.

I think one key point is that RepRap is not your ideal start point. RepRap is designed for self-replication, which means that the focus is on printing plastics. No other materials get much attention (compared to plastics) on these forums. Given that your goal is not self-replication, why not start with something that already works with paste extruders and multiple materials?

I think you would be well served by taking a close look at [email protected]. It already supports dual paste extruders. Specifically, you'll want to look at their hardware, software, and materials. [email protected] users have already managed to 3D print cookie dough and icing.

Good luck. You have taken on a huge project.
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 25, 2013 04:16PM
I looked at the [email protected] site. I agree with Annirak. Why don't you contact [email protected] and see if they can give you some pointers? What they are doing is very similar to Reprap.

Is their hardware capable of controlling 3 extruders?

I think your biggest issue will be software. From modeling the 3D product with multiple materisals, to slicing for 3 (or more) extruders. I'm not aware of software that does this. Perhaps someone else here does.

I'd like to hear about how your project turns out, as handling additional extruders/colors/material is an interesting project.

Hope it goes well!
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 25, 2013 06:38PM
So a university 3rd year mech eng project is just to build a kit
that squirts some exotic food

Those British schools --- day care centers?

Whats next bridge buiding with spagetti?
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 25, 2013 07:51PM
@cozmicray, their project appears, to me anyway, to be primarily mechanically oriented. They haven't told us the parameters of the course. They have explained that only one of them has programming experience, hence the focus on what's available. Why not give ythem the benefit of the doubt and assume that their profs are aware of the state of the art in hobby 3d printing and are asking for something novel other than geometry?
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 26, 2013 06:26AM
me3dmt Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> hi
>
> we're 4 mechanical engineering students in our 3rd
> year at university in London (UK).
> our project this year is to design, and build a
> customised 3d printer (based on the reprap).
> the printer needs to be able to print multiple
> materials (like the mendel tricolour), but instead
> of some kind of plastic (pla/abs) it must used
> food pastes.
>
> because we havent done much programming (one
> member knows C/Python to a self-described
> intermediate level), we're not really sure where
> to start. we're starting to think we've bitten off
> more than we can chew - especially considering we
> have very little time for this project.

It's a worthwhile project, but I agree it is quite ambitious. In particular, support for multiple extruders through the RepRap toolchain is still a bit experimental.

I think if I was you, I would limit the scope as far as possible to the design of the paste extruders, that is the key part of the project, and use standard kit where possible. Writing software to handle STLs etc is secondary I think, but it would be great if you could team up with a software guy.

I would get an off the shelf tricolour mendel, build it and get it working with the 3 colors, eg. red/green/blue, that could be a task for one or two guys and might take a week or two. In parallel, develop the paste extruders. Then you can map colors to materials, e.g. red = pie crust, green = filling etc. Then it is a simple case of swapping red filament for pie dough, and using the same toolchain and processes trialled earlier.

If you have time, you will probably have identified what changes are needed to the standard filament printer to make it more suitable for paste extrusion. These may be mechanical, electronic or software, in which case you may need to delve into the guts. You may end up with a design for a new printer, but I would guess you will only have time to demonstrate proof of principle. Depends on how good you are smiling smiley

Anyway, good luck!
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 26, 2013 10:35PM
Using Marlin firmware on an arduino/RAMPS it is very easy for 3rd year university student
to use the adrduino IDE and understand how to select the right parameters to do about
anything they need
Basic Marlin handles 2 extruders so third may be a problem.

I would bet thier profs know nothing about 3Dprinting

Mechanical linkages and thier use should be crux of project
not building a kit

This is a hard project System of systems -- Printer mechanical, printer electrical, extruder mechanical,
and food service handling exotic pastes

I do a lot of High School science fair judging -- many projects much more complicated than this.

But now a days perhaps crayons and paper paste are the tools of the 3rd year mech eng.

No worry they can easily get a job making millions designing stuff for USA government????

confused smiley


@cozmicray, their project appears, to me anyway, to be primarily mechanically oriented. They haven't told us the parameters of the course. They have explained that only one of them has programming experience, hence the focus on what's available. Why not give ythem the benefit of the doubt and assume that their profs are aware of the state of the art in hobby 3d printing and are asking for something novel other than geometry?
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 28, 2013 12:59AM
@cozmicray: IMHO, this is not a trivial project and would be a challenge for most people. Me included. I for one am very excited that people are seeking out this community as a jump off point. Let's rejoice those who endeavor to add to this community no matter how big or small their contribution may be.
Re: where to start building a custom printer
October 29, 2013 03:45PM
thanks everyone for your helpful messages. we'll keep you updated on where we go with this
Re: where to start building a custom printer
November 04, 2013 12:49AM
I have seen youtube vids using ceramic and frosting based on the rostock delta, it seems to lend it self well to food printing. You would just need some type of controled extruder, like a shot meter.

Good luck and keep us posted...


Jeff.
Re: where to start building a custom printer
November 05, 2013 06:07PM
well its been a long time since ive been here
(ever since having to tend to a stroke victim and the failures of my country's lack of ability to provide proper care AND bloody stroke rehab facilities, yes weare talking singa-bloody-pore, filled with ass-hat ministers)

my guess is you are trying to make a confectionary printing machine, cake? cookie? multi "material"? dough + chocolate?

in printing food, many factories around the world are already "printing" it, its their assembly line. my guess is you want to make something smaller for the smaller individual shops. good idea, but there isnt much to lift off straight into a working "prototype" here.

it is also nothing new to "research" this at your academic scale for a final year end project, ive heard some pre-school using it for kids who are just delighted they can print toys in their own classes (they are really 7-8 year old kids). the problem is they are supervised by hopeless teachers who do not understand it and the culprit are school "owners" who just want to pass off their "School" as 3d capable (wad the heck right? ppl from where i am will know what i am talking about, despicable if i might add)

1) to start off, have you researched into food safe products/materials yet? if not, that will take you a very long time to get to know "them" materials. even if you do not know what that means, let me just throw this at you, how are you going to "sterilize" your printer before you start printing food?
2) have you all tried any 3d printers yet? no? that will take you a few months. this is really where you should start. and you will need to invest HEAVILY in this to know how the rest of the makers build it.
3) have you done a research on what are the different frames that have evolved in this maker scene? yep thats a few more weeks there and some more money too if you are really that crazy.
4) while you are at it, just look at the hundreds of print heads that have evolved, yep this alone, will take you at least a couple of months to make for a food product, and after printing, please do attempt to eat that food you have printed yourself (you need to have strong stomach, some ppl after watching all the printing process refuses to put it into their own mouths, they are afraid there may be a grease leak inside somewhere, HAHAHAHA !)

yea, i think i gave you back alot of strange answers, i think its the coffee. :p ... yep i blame the coffee. (o man im cranky!)

but if you do make something out of it, id like to see you print an edible star trek space craft. that craft, will truly go where no man has gone before ...

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/05/2013 06:13PM by redreprap.


______________________________________
__my mixed bag blog || aka --> [http] || ___ so 3D printing is everywhere ... dont worry, hospitals can now 3Dprint body parts, they will charge you $1million excluding surgical fees ... you will die paying your debts. thats their aim ___ if every patent expires tomorrow, everybody will surely get a 3dprinter and make EVERYTHING ! ____ there is a "DIY-DTG" t shirt printing forum, you can mod an EPSON printer to PRINT like a pro. ___ CNCzone? overly commercialized it seems ___ my country? they will be taxing you for every cm of road you use and track you to your grave using GPS and its government authorized, now they will fire all the traffic wardens instead.___ EEVBLOG? there is only 1 way to do things --> take it apart like a pro
Re: where to start building a custom printer
November 21, 2013 01:10PM
Have you engineers checked out

JKeep's

Ceramic delta 3D printer

[www.thingiverse.com]

squirtin ceramic, -- squirtin exotic food stuff the same

smiling smiley
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login