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DIY Delta 3D Printer (a How-To)

by kevinbragg, published

DIY Delta 3D Printer (a How-To) by kevinbragg Feb 21, 2016
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Summary

The design contained here is a Delta 3D printer. Let me start by saying this will seem quite overwhelming. However, my hope is that after you review this content you'll come to the conclusion that it is achievable.

Many of the things I describe below are outlined in this video, though reviewing the text herein will certainly be beneficial!

How I Designed This

The Inspiration

One day I decided I wanted to build a robot. So I bought motors, motor controllers, and I planned to make a car or something. But then I realized I had no structure! So I went to LEGO stores looking for "universal kits" and I couldn't really find anything (except for perhaps their MindStorm). So, I decided to use the parts I bought and build a 3D printer... this way I could just print the parts I wanted.

After I decided to build a printer, and I did a little research on the internet, the idea got started with me designing the End Effector mount in Microsoft PowerPoint... yes, I said PowerPoint.

Once the PowerPoint concept was done (painfully) I decided to switch to a legitimate CAD program, and I jumped over to FreeCAD.

PowerPoint End Effector design (note: I ended up going 75% scale of this in the final design).

FreeCAD End Effector design

Overall Design

So now that I have an End Effector... lets design a printer!

First lets take a look at the overall design. Then I'll break down how I got here. If you look at the problem as a whole, it looks rather overwhelming. However, like any math problem, if you break it up into bite-sized parts... it's actually manageable. So here I show you the full Delta 3D Printer... but I'll next show you some bite-sized pieces. (The full design is also included in the files, where each piece can be extracted.)

Also shown in the design is my Mark II.

The full Delta 3D Printer

The Delta 3D Printer in action

The 95% solution of the Delta 3D Printer in CAD

The Base

First lets start with the base. Lets be honest, after a week of CAD class you should be able to design that base. There are only a few holes to support the vertical structure, and the overall shape is pretty simple after you've taken geometry.

The physical base (along with the middle and top section) on my Delta 3D Printer was made out of 6061-T6 aluminum cut on a friends CNC machine. However, this is just because I wanted an all metal 3D printer. Once this design is locked down (and you see how simple it is), this could be cut out of wood, MDF, etc. Metal was just my design choice (for stability, longevity, and cool-factor!)

Bottom plate of printer

The Top

Next lets look at the top. Lets be honest, after a week of CAD class you should be able to design that top. There are only a few holes to support the vertical structure, and the overall shape is pretty simple after you've taken geometry.

(Yes I'm repeating myself on purpose!)

Same notes as above about the physical structure.

Top plate of printer

The Middle

Ok... I won't say it a third time. Yes, the middle plate must be designed more diligently (to place all of that support structure, motor mounts, heated bed mounts, etc). However, everything said above still holds true!

Middle plate of printer

So what's next

Well... the hard part of the design is over! Really planning the layout of those plates is the "hard" part. All of the vertical structure I bought from a vendor (MakeBlock). Now, as I said above regarding using 6061 for the plates... you don't need to use a specific vendor or metal vertical structure. I just went with this vendor because they had dimensions listed and I could build to them.

What you need to do is either design all of these parts, and cut them yourself... or use a vendor. I decided that for the "trivial" pieces, I'd use a vendor.

Example 1: Vertical Support

Example 2: Motor Mount

Parts List

So once the plates were designed, all of the vertical support and other parts were purchased.

Metal Parts:

  • 2 x MakeBlock Beam0824-496-Blue (6-Pack)
  • 3 x MakeBlock Beam0824-112-Blue (4-Pack)
  • 6 x MakeBlock Beam0824-048-Blue (4-Pack)
  • 6 x MakeBlock Linear Motion Shaft D8x496mm
  • 4 x MakeBlock 42BYG Stepper Motor Bracket-Blue

Brains:

  • 1 x BeagleBone Black (computer)
  • 1 x BeBoPr++ Controller
  • 3 x Endstop Switch (I used mechanical not optical)

I used a BeagleBone Black because I had one laying around my house. A board to drive the motors was attached (the BeBoPr++). The benefit of this setup is dedicated hardware to drive the motors, and the fact that I could run LinuxCNC an open-source CNC program. Other brains could have been used (like a SmoothieBoard or a Raspberry Pi) and more traditional software to drive it. You really just need to choose what you're comfortable with! I chose a route that was a bit challenging... however, it can handle doing complex delta control without ever bogging down, even at high speeds.

Mech/Elec Motion:

  • 12 x 3D Printed End Cap (STL file included)
  • 1-2 x Carbon Fiber Rod (cut to length for 3 arms)
  • 3 x MakeBlock Linear Motion Slide Unit 8mm (Pair)
  • 4 x Nema17 Stepper Motor
  • 4 x DRV8825 Motor Controller
  • 1 x SeeMeCNC EZStruder Extruder
  • 1 x GT2 Pulley Set (3 idlers and 3 pulleys)
  • 3 x GT2 Cable
  • 12 x Neodymium Magnet 1/4" x 1/4"
  • 12 x Ball Joint

Most of these parts will be obvious from the pictures I provide. Their placement is rather self explanatory. I literally placed these based on intuition... and it worked out well.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Lots x Socket Cap Screw M4x##
  • Lots x Nut 4mm

Other:

  • 1 x 12V ~30A Power Supply (if using heated bed need high amps)
  • 1 x Heated Bed (if desired)
  • 1 x Hot End
  • 1 x Build Plate

Optional:

  • 1 x MakeBlock Cuttable Linkage-Blue (10-Pack) [to mount stuff]
  • 3 x MakeBlock Beam0824-096-Blue (4-Pack) [to make it taller]
  • 6 x MakeBlock Shaft D8×96mm-H [to make it taller]
  • 3 x PolyCarbonate Sheet [to enclose the chamber]

Photographic Assistance

The arms holding the End Effector to the Sliders (design not provided... I have to leave something for you!)

Closeup of End Effector. Here I'm holding the B3 Innovations Pico Hot End. However, you can use any hot end you want (like E3D)!

The enclosed magnet (STL included)

The microswitch for an upper limit, shown with an idler and GT2 belt.

The extruder mounted to the side, feeding the Bowden setup.

The electronics. (Note: The motors have heat-sinks and fans on them. This is optional.)

It won't be problem free

You may have noticed that in the original design (PowerPoint) the End Effector was bent down 30 degrees. Well... bending the part after CNC didn't quite work well. The final design did not have that bend. You will have problems; fight through them!

... it shouldn't be rocking

There will be a reward for your hard work

Once you diligently work through the design, and the weeks/months of building... these are results you could have!

Precision parts
My lithophane lamp
My ez-spin motor
My quadcopter

30.23mm for a 30.00mm calibration cube (and that's including first layer buldging)

My lithophane lamp

My ez-spin motor

My quad-copter frame

Project: DIY Delta 3D Printer (a How-To)

Objective

This is a project to create a tool. The 3D printer in and of itself, while enjoyable to watch, is simply a tool. The 3D printer (be it my printer [which I nicknamed the BraggBot], a MakerBot, etc) is just a very technical hammer. This is not a project about making a revolutionary 3D printer, rather, you must use this tool to come up with your revolutionary idea!

Audience

This project is best suited for high school aged people and beyond. This project can be accomplished by one person, or even by a team.

Preparation

This project can be completed after taking perhaps 2 quarters of High School Computer Aided Drafting (CAD). I took AutoCAD in high school in 1999 and 2000 (2 quarters). I completed this project based on that experience. My engineering degrees only gave me confidence to complete this task. Though, I must admit, it also helps to be a bit nerdy and generally computer literate.

Also, one of the first required decisions is a material choice (aluminum, MDF, etc). This will help to solidify the budget.

Steps

Steps to creating this are essentially defined already in the "How I designed this" section. Just start with one piece... the end effector, the base, the sliders... pick something. Draw that in CAD, look at it, be proud of the piece. Then start with another piece (same thing), look at it, be proud of the piece. After you and/or your team has designed all the pieces - put them together. You'll be amazed how simple something can be if you break it down into it's constitute components.

Results

Once you've completed this project, you should be able to 3D print effectively anything on Thingiverse or from CAD.

So this is a great moment to thank the people who (1) host this site and (2) offer the opportunity for nerds like me to share. My printer is not for sale, I only made one of them, and I'm not looking to make any money. The MakerBot is a beautiful printer, and perhaps for most people it is best. However, for the die-hard nerds out there (or team of minor nerds which add up to a die-hard nerd)... this is perhaps a challenge for you.

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The bent-flanged effector may have worked better with a few extra relief cuts. Do a google image search for sheet metal relief

You are, Sir, a special kind of crazy. Hats off to you! I am exceedingly impressed. I have spare stepper motors, main board, rods, etc. from and old dead 3d Printer and I'm ALMOST inspired enough to try to build a new one from those parts. Boy, yipes, that's a lot of work!
Congratulations on one sweet looking/working printer!!!

Thanks! (I do agree with the crazy.) I wrote this up last night close to midnight after spending 5 hours helping a friend move, and then watching Deadpool... Glad the sarcasm didn't bleed over. (Pun intended.)

This is a great idea :) Nice and simple video with good references to allow the viewer which topics to dig further into. Now that you have a 3d printer, have you considered to exchange some of the part to printed parts rather than the cnc milled ones?

I love the naked aluminum with blue powder coated support too much >.<

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