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Focus SLS printer

by dragonator, published

Focus SLS printer by dragonator Feb 10, 2013

Description

--Discontinued--

Focus is a 3D printer that is designed to print using Selective Laser Sintering. Focus can also be adapted for FDM, 3DP and lasercutting/engraving.

Recent Comments

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hi

what type mW laser do you use? , what is the brand of the laser?

You can always PM me. I myself also have a batch of recycled PA2200 bought from another 3D printing service. Shapeways wouldn't sell me at the time.

Sintering PA is extremely hard and focus lacks vital hardware. The things it lack are:-Heated buildbox or external layer heater, -Oxygen free (Nitrogen) environment, -CO2 laser capabilities.

You need to heat the powder to just below melting point before you can start laser sintering. this is a problem for Focus since MDF does not handle heat that well. The oxygen free nitrogen environment could be made to encase Focus completely, but you do need it to stably print for long times. CO2 is an absolute must, Nylon can't really be sintered by any other laser, simply because it is too bright for all other wavelengths.

Focus has failed to prove itself for SLS printing, but has more than proven itself in 3DP (Zcorp) printing. I am currently working on a new printer that has a much better powder handling system made from aluminum. It can be used with CO2 safely and can be heated if necessary. The gas environment is not needed for me, so you'll have to solve that one on your own.
Sadly, my own SLS project have been postponed until further notice, due to complexity and other techniques that are cheaper and simpler to build (expect a dedicated 3DP printer in the next 6 months)

hey dragonator i couldent find a more direct way to contact you but i managed to get some shapeways pa2200 (strong and flexible) its their scrap with a higher than spec heat index but im going to try and cyrogenic grind some to reduce the size even more and possibly sinter it im going to try and build mine similar to yours but turns out mdf expands very little under heat so if i simply insulate the optics and print mechanism from the build chamber somewhat it should be able to sinter (im hoping) around 70 cel if you want to try some i found the scrap powder at filastruder for 24$ @ 8 lbs

keep up the good work

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License

Focus SLS printer by dragonator is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

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Instructions

EDIT:

Focus has been completely discontinued. Focus will no longer be updated or improved.

It was too slow, to unreliable and the piston design was constantly jamming. Also afters seeing that inkjet printing in powder works really well, I decided that Focus was too slow for further experiments. A 5x10x20mm print took over an hour.

Now I haven't given up on this technique. I am currently building a new, faster printer purely aimed at 3DP printing. I have learned a lot from Focus an have implemented a lot of improvement in the new design. It should be running full speed around march 2014. I will make a post on thingiverse, but I might host the files and instructions somewhere else.

End of edit.

youtu.be/Jg1QVDSkoII

youtu.be/6hust59wrUo

Right now, Focus is a work in progress. I have been working on it since october last year. Since then a full design has been made. The printer and electronics have been built and a complete pack of firmware has been written. The firmware has been built from scratch because SLS and FDM just differ too much. The firmware handles normal FDM Gcode, and uses the E axis to determine if the laser has to be turned on or off.

Focus prints using a focusable 1500mw 808nm laser that sits on 2 axis. Both pistons move with a 64 step 1:64 geared stepper motor. The Gcode is stored on a SD card. The printer is stand alone and is controlled with a 4x20 LCD screen and 8 buttons. The printer is built using 3D printed parts and MDF.

The printer can be built for less than €600 (, or about $800), if you source the parts right.
(Edit, A rough parts list with prices for the printer have been added to the downloads)

Right now I only have engraved with the printer, but every system is about ready to start actual printing. I will post videos and pictures of this as soon as I have the process under control.

A short video of the printer engraving its name in to cardboard:
youtu.be/atUDSc9cXCk

Full instructions of how to make this printer will be uploaded as soon as the project is capable of full printing.

Feel free to ask any question you have.

Updates

17-02-2013:
Time for my first weekly (and with weekly I mean whenever I have news) update. I have spent last week collecting good materials to print. Thus far I have tried Candelillawax and E-PVC. To both powders I had to add carbon to make it absorb light. White powder reflects too much of the IR light.

The wax melts very easily, but doesn't actually make a nice line. There are much interruptions in the line. In order to make a continuous line, I needed to melt way too deep in the wax, which would cause catastrophic shrink. The E-PVC, being PVC, gets burned even without a good reason. I have yet to melt it with the laser, without actually burning it. I added a picture to show what the E-PVC looks like once I lasered it. I will do some more tweaking. I may have some PA coming my way, but I don't know that for sure yet.

Expect some delays in this project. I need to completely redesign all of the pistons. Turns out the motors I used because they were cheap, were cheap for a reason. What pointless engineer would design a motor that fails after a few hours. I will post updated parts after I finished designing them.

27-02-2012
Expect no changes on this project until the beginning of April, I have been working on this for over five months and I have taken a break and started working on a small side-project. You will see the results of this project in the next few weeks. After that, I will resume this project at full speed, making necessary changes and repairs, and have more experiments. I promise I will post most parts, software and schematics in the course of April.

20-03-2013

I finally finished my project (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:61796). I have not yielded the desired result, but I have got a result that I'm proud of. If you have an instructables account, and feel that my project is awesome, I would like you to vote me in the UP! (and in the lamps and lights) contest. Make my month count.

I will slowly resume work on the sls printer. I have already designed and printed replacement parts for the Z axis. Good news: The electronics are now fully Ramps compatible! The design has evolved to full ramps compatibility. I will post schematics, cut lists, BOM and plans in the following weeks.

27-03-2013
I finally started uploading more files to build focus. All files are in the complete build package. Don't let the name fool you, it is far from complete. It is all of the files I have right now. Included in this version of the package are: A pdf describing most of the current things about focus (this will be updated after each new build package), the firmware, A cut list for focus, and all of the parts, including a few modified parts. I am working on detailed BOM's, exploded views and assembly drawings.

Now that Focus is RAMPS compatible, I require your help. My programming skills are limited. I ask anyone with proper programming skills to convert an existing firmware for use with focus. If you want to help, contact me and I can give you a list of requirements. You will be fully credited for any work you do. Many thanks in advance.

10-04-2013

Yes I am still alive and am very busy and guess what, I have ordered RAMPS electronics for Focus. This means that the next firmware update you will get is fully RAMPS compatible. I was a bit reluctant to buy RAMPS at first, not because I don't trust it but simply because it costs even more money. This project has been nothing but a hole that I can throw money in, and my finances have not been much in the green with the GlaDOS lamp and everything.

I will post an update when the full conversion to RAMPS is done, including more build files and more detailed drawings. I want you (everyone) to be able to build one on your own as soon as possible, so that there can be more experiments and SLS finally coming to the open source community. I can't do this on my own and I want you to help.

18-05-2013
After a busy month, I have an Even more busy month ahead of me. Schoolwork, schoolwork everywhere. I have uploaded a new complete buildpackage, V0,02. In this one, you will find schematics, diagrams and everything needed to build a Focus of your own.

Expect no new updates in the coming month, I am very busy with school work.


Disclaimer:
This project uses high power invisible lasers. I am not responsible for any harm or damage done to you or your surroundings.

Comments

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ASLAN3B on Feb 7, 2014 said:

hi

what type mW laser do you use? , what is the brand of the laser?

eir44 on Oct 10, 2013 said:

hey dragonator i couldent find a more direct way to contact you but i managed to get some shapeways pa2200 (strong and flexible) its their scrap with a higher than spec heat index but im going to try and cyrogenic grind some to reduce the size even more and possibly sinter it im going to try and build mine similar to yours but turns out mdf expands very little under heat so if i simply insulate the optics and print mechanism from the build chamber somewhat it should be able to sinter (im hoping) around 70 cel if you want to try some i found the scrap powder at filastruder for 24$ @ 8 lbs

keep up the good work

dragonator on Oct 11, 2013 said:

You can always PM me. I myself also have a batch of recycled PA2200 bought from another 3D printing service. Shapeways wouldn't sell me at the time.

Sintering PA is extremely hard and focus lacks vital hardware. The things it lack are:-Heated buildbox or external layer heater, -Oxygen free (Nitrogen) environment, -CO2 laser capabilities.

You need to heat the powder to just below melting point before you can start laser sintering. this is a problem for Focus since MDF does not handle heat that well. The oxygen free nitrogen environment could be made to encase Focus completely, but you do need it to stably print for long times. CO2 is an absolute must, Nylon can't really be sintered by any other laser, simply because it is too bright for all other wavelengths.

Focus has failed to prove itself for SLS printing, but has more than proven itself in 3DP (Zcorp) printing. I am currently working on a new printer that has a much better powder handling system made from aluminum. It can be used with CO2 safely and can be heated if necessary. The gas environment is not needed for me, so you'll have to solve that one on your own.
Sadly, my own SLS project have been postponed until further notice, due to complexity and other techniques that are cheaper and simpler to build (expect a dedicated 3DP printer in the next 6 months)

knarf2011 on Aug 10, 2013 said:

Awesome! But the skirt loops don't really serve a purpose. You should disable them.

Is any software needed aside from what one would use with a RepRap?

dragonator on Aug 10, 2013 said:

Skirt loops? Do you mean the light pieces of wood that rim the perimeter of the print surface, cause they serve a very real purpose.

Anyway, No other software is currently needed. You only need a way to convert STL into Gcode. All other work is done by the printer itself.

MaximFilms on Jul 14, 2013 said:

great design! If I have some more time this will be my next project! Awesome!

kazektulu on Jul 2, 2013 said:

I've been following this one for months. Dragonator- everything you have made has been absolutely fantastic, I cannot wait to see this one, I'll definately be building one too.
Why do you suppose that nobody else has really gone into SLS desktop printers yet? Is powder handling and management a health issue?

dragonator on Jul 2, 2013 said:

Even though the title says SLS, focus is convertible to 3DP (inkjet). Nobody has gone into SLS desktop printers because it is unknown, really hard and dangerous (high powered lasers). Powder management could be a health issue, but I think it is mainly this: no real prospect for usable parts in experimental printers and too many unknowns. (for SLS and 3DP)

I haven't had a single usable part, just some experiments. Everything I do is completely unknown.

I am currently planning to convert Focus to 3DP printer, because I need a break from the hell that is SLS printing. I need to rethink SLS before I will continue with that.

baokyo on Jul 1, 2013 said:

What the nice work!!
could you give me step file ?
I`m trying do some change.please.

dragonator on Jul 17, 2013 said:

I just uploaded the STEP files of all the printed parts. Sorry it took so long (procrastination FTW).

Andrew1618033 on Apr 23, 2013 said:

What's the third picture? Is that lasercutting? SLS?

dragonator on Apr 24, 2013 said:

The third picture is supposed to be SLS (sintering) but it is more SLB (burning) The powder you see is a mixture of E-PVC and carbon powder.

The electronics were a custom way too complicatated set of boards, but is now an autonomous Ramps board. I am close to making a new update that will make this thing buildable for everyone (with all the information that accompanies that).

monoceros on Apr 11, 2013 said:

Wonderful work, I'll try to print and run.

wsoft2002 on Apr 9, 2013 said:

WOW!! Wonderful!! I will build one when it's ready!!

Just find another Open Source SLS printer which use WAX.
http://andreasbastian.com/3dp/...

dragonator on Apr 9, 2013 said:

I have read the full article when I started the project. The time in which he did it and his result is commendable, but I never full agreed with his result and terminology.

He is not sintering, he is simply melting, resulting in extreme amounts of shrink. He uses lasers and drivers that cost more than this whole printer and somehow no-one can get a roller to work, even though all the industrial powder printers use this.

Having said that, it is my first goal to replicate his results before proceeding with plastics. I have ordered a ramps and am making final modifications to start printing again. That GlaDOS lamp project took a lot of my time.

MTRXBlog on Mar 29, 2013 said:

have you considered building a machine that uses an array of motorised mirrors at a distance from the bed in order to sinter the material. It means you'd be able to sinter a lot faster, but not so good for laser cutting...

dragonator on Mar 29, 2013 said:

I could, but even though the name suggests only light and the name literately says SLS, this is not just a SLS printer, it is an experimental powder printer platform. It can basically do every powder printer job.

Also the speed of the axis is not the limiting factor, the power of the laser is. When (if) I build one that uses a CO2 laser, I will design one that is faster, has more SLS specific functions and can handle a high power laser hitting it by accident.

lozza1950 on Mar 27, 2013 said:

wonderful design and build . All the blue parts what was the approx cost of these. The STL files can be used to reproduce these ? thanks

dragonator on Mar 27, 2013 said:

The blue was all printed and is roughly 1kg of PLA. The project has set me back between €800 and €1000, but that is because I have replaced some parts and bought for stock. This thing is buildable for under €600.

The STL files will only build you the printed parts. I need to update some parts in the pistons, so those will still change. I am working on cut lists, schematics and assembly drawings. The electronics are ramps compatible, even though I have got a custom piece of electronics to drive this thing.

lozza1950 on Mar 27, 2013 said:

I just worked it out about the cost of parts etc . Stupid question .
Thanks

litris on Mar 24, 2013 said:

Please schematics :-(
Very nice!!!

Thanks.

dragonator on Mar 24, 2013 said:

I am finishing up on the GlaDOS lamp right now. I am working on a small surprise on that. I already started on everything to make this thing completely. Expect those in the next one or two weeks. Until then, please be patient, I am very busy right now.

dowhilegeek on Mar 22, 2013 said:

Any shots of the things you printed?

moriza on Mar 22, 2013 said:

I want one!

wizard23 on Mar 9, 2013 said:

wow!

beverageexpert on Feb 19, 2013 said:

any chance of seeing the software to control this?

3DTOPO on Mar 2, 2013 said:

Touche. I am not sure the point of printing out these parts if there is no firmware we can use to control them. I think more people would be able to contribute to the hardware and firmware if it was made available.

EricYoung on Feb 12, 2013 said:

Very nice work, thanks for your effort!

Dizingof on Feb 11, 2013 said:

+1

cerberus333 on Feb 11, 2013 said:

Looking forward to seeing the uploaded info.
I am particularly interested in using it on hard wax for Lost wax models that are printed without support.

dragonator on Feb 11, 2013 said:

That actually is the current goal

dezbot on Feb 11, 2013 said:

Super cool! I also am looking forward to seeing it work. Had you seen this SLS printer thing? http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

dragonator on Feb 11, 2013 said:

I have seen it but I have never seen it work as a SLS printer, just as a 3DP printer.

Anonymous on Feb 11, 2013 said:

I really want to see this work!

julienM on Feb 10, 2013 said:

It must be exciting to make something completely new. Its probably way to early for questions like this and don't take it as criticism. What kind of print speed do you think will be possible? I'm thinking that the laser has to go to all points that need to be hardened, meaning the same amount of travel as FDM. How slow does the laser have to go to sinter the material? I'll be interested to see your progress.

dragonator on Feb 11, 2013 said:

The engraving happens at a whopping 72mm/min and I already am powering the laser at 80% of the absolute maximum. The maximum travel this design allows is about 30mm/s. The design was never speed, it was proof of concept.

(Luckily you have never seen the pistons moving, compared to that the laser is racing over the printbed. If it reaches 1mm/s I would be surprised)

MakerBlock on Feb 10, 2013 said:

Very cool! Out of curiosity, could it be suped-up to make a laser cutter?

dezbot on Feb 11, 2013 said:

1500mw won't cut much, not sure if that's what you meant. I used a 1000mw laser to make a laser engraver for the Thing-O-Matic, http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

dragonator on Feb 10, 2013 said:

The construction is designed for powder printing. Laser cutting, engraving and FDM are just things this machine is capable of doing. It is mostly for powder printing. The laser might cut through thin sheets of plastic, but that remains to be tested.

laszlo on Feb 10, 2013 said:

Hi,

It is a pretty awesome project. Where did you source the laser? Seems like the crucial part of the whole machine.

Laszlo

dragonator on Feb 10, 2013 said:

Surprisingly, the laser is just available from ebay, the harder part is the driver, which I had to make myself. Also, somehow, it is easier to obtain high power lasers from the internet than laser safety glasses.

pp3dpNL on Feb 10, 2013 said:

Awesome, can't wait to see the results!

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