Sunday, October 26, 2008


PIC32 > Laser cut machine

Images of the finished article added in PLA & PCL

To date I have been running one of the early Bits-From-Bytes machines made up from the cast resin parts. My machine, affectionately known as “RepScrap”, due to its less than ideal start in life – Ian's scrap bin! It provided me with an inexpensive start on the project and I have to say given some very good results.
As you can see from the video, the next big thing to report is that I have moved the whole project over to one of the new laser cut machines. RepScrap was never perfect, the parts used for the Z drive let me down on more than one occasion, to add to that the stiffness of the X carriage was poor. The new Laser Cut design offers several advantages over first model. Firstly, every axis is run on ball bearings giving nice low friction motion, the Z-Axis now runs like a dream even with the anti-backlash mechanism. Extra bars are now fitted to the X axis, improving the torsional strength to a point I now think the standard machine could be used for PCB routing. The new machine also comes with a complete set of cross braces, RepScrap only had a single brace on each side.
The Laser cut machine is quite a long build, and I have to say a bit fiddly to put together. If I had any advice to prospective builders of this design, it would be to take your time, get everything perfect with the sub assembly before it is built onto the machine. There are a few areas where moving elements are clearly over restrained, the X carriage is an obvious case. To align all eight bearings is a tall order. Get things perfectly square and it will reward you with a nice smooth free running machine. Ian has uploaded some very comprehensive instructions for the build, the graphics alone are worth a look! Seriously though, time spent getting things spot on will repay dividends when you start printing.
Saturday night, listening to Katie Melua watching the new machine....does life get better than this?
OK so I need to get out more!

Nice work! Looks like a pretty smooth machine!
Bloody brilliant! Congratulations! I really like your little LCD display that gives the extruder temperature.
Very nice! I like your results very much. LCD is a really nice thing to have when you print from SD card (no computer attached). Otherwise, it's just for showing off :)
Once again, thanks for the encouragement! Please say when you are fed up with the pictures etc!

The LCD on the extruder shows the settings on the right and current values on the left. The two pots below change the set values. I am not sure if I will go forward with the “Smart tool” concept but for development work it has made things very easy. Setting up a new material is a simple as tweaking the temperature and speed to get a nice extruded filament. One other advantage of this approach is on multi tool set-ups, the extruder can initialise itself in the rack and is sat ready to run when required.
The main machine is running off the SD Card with its own LCD, showing file name and machine status.
I hardly ever get fed up with pictures. :-D
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