One of the more fascinating and eccentric mechanical approaches to desktop 3D printer design designs around polar rather than Cartesian coordinates. And while a number of projects in this direction have been attempted, this polar bot designed by Tyler Anderson over the past few years — the Theta — is in a working prototype state over on Hackaday Projects! Check out the overview below, and then visit the project page to learn more about how it functions and a detailed development history.
The Theta Printer is a platform for printing with as many different materials as possible. Whether it be different colors of plastic, wood, carbon fiber, chocolate, or anything else you can make an extruder for. Each extruder moves simultaneously and independently, allowing the printer to lay down 4 different materials onto the same object at the same time.
…With most 3D printers, adding more extruders makes the machine slower and reduces the build volume. The Theta Printer overcomes this by using polar coordinates. A polar printer works kind of like an old fashioned record player. Your objects are printed onto a platter which spins. The advantage is that you can have many print heads. Each extruder is on the end of an arm which swings in and out. The spinning platter is called the ϴ (“theta”) axis and the swinging arm is called the R axis. Together these replace the normal X and Y coordinates you’re used to. A polar printer has a couple of advantages over normal cartesian 3D printers.
- Less moving mass means better acceleration
- Finer resolution, especially near the center
- Multiple toolheads without reducing build area
The spinning platform makes this machine ideal for integrating a 3D scanner. In addition, you can easily swap out an extruder for a mill or any other tool, making the Theta Printer the perfect all-in-one fabrication machine.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!