Engineering student Owen Jeffreys may well have accomplished a first here — something tricky to notice given how many 3D printers are using Raspberry Pi OctoPrint rigs to run them. This is a printer designed from the ground up around the Pi as its electronics package!
This video briefly outlines the building and testing of a unique, home-built, 3D printer which uses a Raspberry PI as its “brain” or CPU.
…the PI actually controls every part of the machine including, but limited to the motors, heaters and temperature sensors. The 800MHz PI runs the time-critical (virtually real-time), dedicated program with great ease making it possible for a 3-dimensional, plastic (ABS or PLA) model to be printed layer by layer.
This 3D printer was designed and built as an individual, level 3, engineering project, chosen by me as I owned a PI and wanted to do something useful and unique with it which would help people who dismiss the PI to realise that it is capable of a lot more than they could possible imagine. It was a very challenging task covering a whole range of engineering fields. Almost every part of the 3D printer was made from scratch, including, but not limited to, the circuit board, the aluminium framework, the drive system and the C++ program to run on the PI.
The PI can be hooked up to a HDTV or laptop to display the print progress and other useful information, or it can run completely stand-alone. The 3D printer runs at around ¼ speed compared to a typical, hobby 3D printer (e.g. RapMan, Cube or Touch), taking around 25 hours to print a 60mm high chess piece – the speed only limited by the stepper motor choice and gearing.
…It took approximately eight months to complete and would not have been possible without the help from family, friends, teachers and instructors. In particular, the help from an exceptional teacher and project supervisor, Laurence Hyett, was invaluable and very much appreciated. Although this 3D printer works, the project is not entirely complete – there is still room for improvement. One such improvement which is underway is to modify the interface board used to connect the PI to the 3D printer from a hand-etched, double-sided PCB to a compact “shield” which will stack neatly on top of any PI. Faster print speeds and a twin print head are also being considered….
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