printable T profile belt with soft PLA

by BonsaiBrain, published

printable T profile belt with soft PLA by BonsaiBrain Mar 2, 2011


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Soft pla is a very good material to print. After the first experiments with the feed and flow rate on my mendel reprap, I found a working profile. Slow but strong.
Just for fun I tried to make a copy of a part of the belt around my x-axis. Because the soft pla has the same color - light grey - I had this idea.

OpenSCAD again proofed to be very good for things like that. I made a singe pattern of one tooth and the following gap and copied it 20 times.

The comparison to the original belt was stunning.

The next step was printing an endless belt. The design with openSCAD was a bit tricky, but I never stop learing commands.
For this I had to tweak the skeinforge profile a little, but the result was worth tuning: The belt is fitting.

I tested it with some mendel parts screwed together and fixed on my desk. The endless belt is around 380 mm - quite ok and not the maximum at all.
It is very though, but not tought enough - you can break it with brute force. But the elasticity is ok. It stretches about 2 mm (~0.5%) until it breaks.
Not comparable to the belts used in the reprap machines but more resistant than ever expected.

More about this and where to get this soft PLA on: www.ifeelbeta.de



Print it with soft PLA, turn around, fix to some gears and have fun!

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have you ever thought in filaflex ?

Can you post the .scad file for the endless loop? Right now the file is only for a long string.

Can anyone point to some matching gears so one can test this belt?

Try printing it very thin for flexibility and gluing a canvas strip around it. Be sure to overlap the canvas. Roll top desks use wooden slats with a canvas back as the hinge.

It would be neat to see the openSCAD file automatically put a bunch of squiggles in the belt so very long belts can still fit on a small platform. Does that make sense? Something like a starfish, or like block text of a number "3".

Hmm, this is why there needs to be an option to pause mid-print, display a message onscreen, then let you unpause it so you can just lay some steel wire in it.

If you are printing from RepG (not from SD) on the Makerbots, then there is a G-code that prints a message and waits for a response before continuing.

I'm thinking about updating my LCD firmware to support it so the same functionality will work from SD.


but i would change the design from oval to round.Then the default curvature is the same everywhere, which should improve the run.

This is exciting! It would also be possible to print moulds with material like that. Is there any reasonable source for getting soft PLA in the US?

This is amazing. Congrats;)


'Proper' belts have steel or glass fiber (or ??) thread embedded in them to prevent them from stretching, we could probably reproduce this too either internally (if the back is 2+ paths thick) or on the back.

Glass fiber-reinforced tape on the back (as Buback suggests, and is used alone in http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5777)http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... is probably the easiest, but might risk delamination due to the belt curving around the pulleys.

It begs to be tried out!

(or ??) also includes aramid fiber (Kevlar being an aramid).

perhaps you could put some type of backing on the flat side, like reinforced tape or spectra fishing line?

Thanks! Even if the belt is not practical, i love hearing about experiments in different materials.

At the very least, it could be great as one of those "print this and keep it on hand in case part X breaks" parts that will get you back into working order to finish a print job. You could always print a few and just replace them as they break (being sure to print a new belt once you've replaced the broken belt)!

I would not say that a printed belt is not practical. For simple transmission without heavy duty or for hobby experiments it is very useful. In fact it is no replacement for a steel wire containing belt.