After I had done all the research for my doctoral thesis, I started the not fun part of my thesis (the writing of the actual document). So I decided that I need a fun project on the side to relax. During that time I was in Germany where I had access to a workshop. To make use of the workshop and to accelerate a long time ongoing project I decided to built a 3D printer.
There are a huge amount of different designs available and the community does an amazing job to design and supply all necessary parts. The commercially available printer appeared me too flimsy for there money. Also the fact that with the open source/hardware community almost anybody can build relative easy there own printer I decided to start this project.
My choice was a delta type printer with a built volume of 40cm x 40cm x 40cm. Since I eventually wanted to be able to use the printer to mill moulds out of high density foam (for fabrication of lightweight composite parts), I designed the printer much stiffer. I also used some more expensive linear bearings. With this kinematics the rotational loads on the rails are minimal. So I was able to used uses just one linear slide per axis. This reduces the cost significantly even I had to used the more expensive linear bearings.
With a drill press, a metal hacksaw, a vice, some tabs and some drill bits I fabricated the few parts which are not off the shelf. I took those parts with me to Canada. Obviously my luggage got multiple times carefully screened by the border authorities and I had some really nice conversations.
In Canada I fabricated the rather large wood parts and started to assemble all the parts. After multiple modification and adjustments I was finally able to print parts with acceptable quality. Thanks to the open source community the motivations and adjustments where much faster than it would probably have been without those information.
After several smaller test parts I was finally able to print the large part, for which the printer was originally built. It is duct, much more I will not reveal for now. The quality of this part is acceptable, but can most likely and will be hopefully soon improved by a stronger (geared) extruder stepper motor, a heated chamber/bed and other features.
The printer in action (time lapse):
The printer in action (real time):