Alternative Rails

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Alternative Rails

Release status: Experimental

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Using materials other than steel for the axis rails
CAD Models
External Link

Steel is strong and can be ground precisely, but it is heavy and can be expensive. Other materials can be just as effective and offer benefits over steel.

Carbon Fiber

CF Tubes are much lighter, and will reduce the total mass of the Mendel significantly, which is great if your going to be carrying it around to show it off. It isn't much cheaper than steel, but the shipping is less if going by weight. CF is also easier to cut, but you will want to use an abrasive cutting wheel, like on a dremel. CF is also extremely straight and resists bending.

It can significantly reduce the mass of the Z axis, which might be useful if you plan on putting 3+ tool heads on your Mendel, to prevent the Z motor from being overworked. However, replacing the Y and Z rails only reduces total machine mass and doesn't improve the performance of the Mendel.

Might work with bushings i.e. Prusa Mendel

Carbon Fiber Tubes: Buback's build log

Acrylic Rod

Cheap and available in many arts and crafts or hobby stores Easy to cut

Might work with bushings i.e. Prusa Mendel

Wooden Dowel Rod

Dowel rods are extremely cheap and probably work well enough to get a Mendel up and printing. it is very easy to work. it will bend, whether from leaning against a wall or just from changing humidity, so straightness will be a problem

This should probably only be used as a temporary solution when first building a Mendel. Maybe you can't afford the steel or other options right now; Dowel rod hold you over in the mean time.

Probably won't work with bushings: too much friction