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3D printing with Matlab

Posted by CountVlad 
3D printing with Matlab
April 22, 2013 09:35AM
For my senior project design I would like to create a 3D printer controlled by matlab. To make things easier I would like to use the Ramps 1.4, Arduino Mega 2560 and Pololu Stepper Drivers, but I'm not sure if they can all be controlled by matlab since I'm new to the subject. I know that the arduino can be controlled but I am not sure how the other two devices interface with each other. Does the arduino control the ramps and the pololu?

The other question that I have is how would matlab have the arduino print the 3D part? I know matlab can read stl files, but would I have to create a code that can take the stl file and send each xyz axis coordinate to the arduino?

I've been doing some digging for the past couple of days regarding matlab and arduino but I cant find anything on the subject. I'm only looking to get on the right path, get some answers and see if a project like this is worth doing. I know I could buy or put together a printer with software that can print the parts for me but that's not what I want to do. I would like to integrate and have matlab print the parts for me.

Thank you
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
April 22, 2013 02:58PM
Just the other day someone was asking how to do a similar thing with Labview, also without really having done enough research into what is actually required. Neither Labview nor matlab in my opinion would be suitable tools for 3D printers. It's like saying "I have a hammer, and I want to build a car. I don't know how cars work, but can anyone help me build a car with a hammer?"

First thing to do is find out what the components of a 3d printer system are, what they do and what the information flow is. Then you can decide which parts could be an achievable task, and what are the appropriate tools for the job. Simply building a printer from a published design and getting it to print well could be a task in itself.

I would also suggest finding some makers near you who can show you their printers and explain how they work.
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
April 22, 2013 08:36PM
Regarding control:

The Arduino controls RAMPS and the Pololu's (they're only mounted on RAMPS to provide a single connection point to the Arduino).

RAMPS is basically a bunch of outputs (FETs) used to control things like the hot end, heated bed & fan. It provides inputs for reading the state of various things (like Temperature via the thermistors and end stops being triggered via the end-stop inputs). There are also a bunch of general IO pins that are also exposed off the Arduino so that the Arduino can talk to other things if needed (eg: the LCD interface board, SD card readers and thermocouples as an option instead of thermistors).

There is absolutely no processing done on the RAMPS board itself. The most complicated bits are the Thermistor inputs (which have a resistor and cap to "smooth" out the reading), and the FET outputs (which use the Arduino output to turn on the FET, allowing voltage to flow through the device (eg: a hot end). There are also some PTC fuses for protection, and some LED's for basic diagnostics. The rest is just basically wiring and Pololu support circuitry (jumpers for microstepping selection, some filtering caps, etc). The only other thing are all the sockets for connecting everything up.
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
September 23, 2013 06:42AM
I think this is an amazing idea. We can use matlab to decode g code data and transfer only the steps required for stepper motor. We can implement complex calculation in the controller directly on the matlab and just transfer the no of steps.This will reduce the computing power required in microcontroller. Hence the cost of controller can be reduced.
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
September 23, 2013 06:14PM
How much does a Matlab license cost? They don't even publish prices on their website.

I think if you want to save money, you could start by not buying Matlab smiling smiley There are plenty of free programming tools around.
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
September 27, 2013 12:01PM
OPENSCAD has many math functions and allows you to draw programmatically. I'm starting to dig into it and i found it very interesting.

And it's opensource.
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
October 15, 2013 12:51AM
I have started working on matlab code for 3d printing,and developement of code is easy in matlab as it have many inbuilt functions,i have crack of matlab.....
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
April 16, 2014 07:07PM
I am also trying to be able to print something controlled by Matlab and Simulink. I find it a very powerful tool. My idea is first to be able to generate a host that builds the gcodes and then sends them to Marlin while it monitorizes the printing process.

If I can do so, It would be great to be able to program the arduino firmware from Matlab using the support package.
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
April 16, 2014 11:41PM
I think bobc's hammer analogy is right on the money. Neither matlab nor labview offer anything at all that has any applicability to the world of 3D printing as far as I can see.
Re: 3D printing with Matlab
September 19, 2015 03:36PM
There is an incredible amount of information on the net about printing with Matlab. All you have to do is google it. I have seen some absolutely incredible designs generated with this. As far as cost goes, Numpy and SciPy (FOSS software) as well as others can be used in place of the per seat charges for Matlab.

This joining of techniques can be used to create great beauty, or mathmatical models for understanding.
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