Archive for the '3D Printing' Category

Open Source 4 Axis Stepper Driver

This is a new 4 axis stepper driver board for use in laser cutter/engravers and general CNC.  Below are the basic features

  • Socket mounted stepper drivers
  • Integral cooling fan with power connection.
  • On board 5V Power supply.
  • Rotary switch selectable microstep resolution (Full,2x,4x,8x,16x).
  • Control connection via terminal blocks or 25 pin ‘D’ connector.
  • Filtering on all step and direction signals.
  • Motor disable/enable feature through ‘D’ connector or external switch connected to terminal block.
Socket Mounted Stepper Drivers
The board uses low cost socket mounted stepper drivers.  These can be Pololu A4983/A4988 drivers or open source Step Stick drivers.  These are easily replaced if ever damaged without any rework to the PCB.  A compatible relay driver is planned that also fits this socket.  This will allow up to (2) relays to be controlled per board.  These are controlled via the set and direction pins associated with that axis and uses the existing terminal blocks for that axis.  This is perfect for a spindle on a CNC router or assist air on a laser cutter.
Cooling Fan
There is an integral cooling fan for the stepper drivers.  It mounts directly to the board and has a dedicated power connection.  It is mounted high enough to allow heatsinks to be mounted to the drivers.  This will allow the drivers to run at their full potential of 2 amps per coil.
5V Power Supply
There is a 1 amp 5V switching power supply on board.  This will not get hot like a linear regulator due to the voltage drop from the motor supply.  This can optionally be 3.3V if your controller requires that.  All other items on the board are 5V – 3.3V compatible.
Rotary Switch Resolution Selection.
The resolution of the drivers can be independently set via rotary switches.  The resolution is selectable between full step, 2x, 4x, 8x and 16x microstepping.  These and the control connector are flush mounted to one side for easy bulkhead mounting.
Control Connector.
The board has a dual pattern for the control connector.  There is a pattern for standard 5mm pitch terminal blocks and a pattern for a ‘D’ 25 pin male connector.  The ‘D’ connector has a standard pinout for direct PC connection for Mach3 or EMC.  The terminal block is perfect for direct connection to laser controllers like the Thunderlaser DSP controller or an Arduino microcontroller.
All step and direction signals are filtered with a RC filter and a schmitt trigger.  This is ideal for a noisy environment like a laser cutter or CNC machine.  The RC filter frequency is high enough to allow 1uS pulse control of the drivers.
Motor Enable/Disable
You can enable or disable the motors via the ‘D’ connector or via an external switch connected to a terminal block.  This can allow hot motors to cool off or allow you to manually rotate them.
Interface Drawing (coming soon)
3D Model (coming soon)
User Guide
There are a limited quantity available for immediate purchase
$40 assembled and tested with fan and mating connectors.
$90 with (4) drivers and heatsinks.

If you would like to comment, please use the forum topic for this post.

Laser Cutter Adds 3D Printing Capability

3D Printing Laser Cutter

The Open Source Laser cutter/engraver just added 3D printing to it’s capabilities.   The printer system uses the existing CNC motion system of the laser cutter along with standard RepRap electronics.  A quick release plastic extruder carriage is added to the existing gantry.

The upgrade project is called the Chimera Project because this is a hybrid of two self replicating machines.  The parentage of the parts gets a little blurred.  A Chimera is a animal descended from two genetically different animals.  The laser is  self replicating by making all its non off the shelf parts.  Adding 3D printing takes that another step forward.  The electronics were packaged outside the enclosure for development, but will be moved inside soon.

Changing modes is quick and simple.  Swap the control cable, attach the extruder carriage and you are ready to print.  You can even leave the printer carriage in place if you don’t need to use the full width machine when laser cutting.  The total upgrade cost is less than $200.

The RepRap electronics can actually control the laser cutter with no modifications to the hardware or software, but the lack of acceleration parameters in the RepRap control system limits the speed the laser carriage can move before it becomes to jerky.

Already in the works are a tangential knife cutting head, Pen plotter and Dremel tool head.   The entire system is open source and well documented.  Starter kits for the laser are available and the 3D printing parts are coming soon.

Also see a build log for a project going the other way:  a MakerBot printing a laser cutter.

Extruder Carriage

Extruder Carriage - (X Motion via duct Tape!)

Chimera Project

First 3D Print

On It's Raft

MakerBot Plastruder MK5

MakerBot Plastruder MK5

Yesterday, MakerBot announced they are offering the new Plastruder MK5.   The extruder is designed for reliability, low maintenance and ease of use.

It features and all stainless steel hot end that is precision machined to tightly screw together to prevent any leaks.  It gets rid of the Nichrome wire heater and replaces it with two power resistors.  The resistors draw a lot of power an must be used with a relay board.

The feeder uses the MK5 drive gear that has been available for while and gets rid of the idler wheel.  Instead, it uses a thumbscrew adjustable Delrin plunger.   he feeder uses the same DC motor as the MK4, but there is a NEMA 17 pattern for the planned upgrade to a stepper.

The design is of course on Thingiverse.  It is for sale and in stock at the store for $189.

Plastruder MK5 Hot End

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New 3D Printer

ultimaker 3d printer

I have seen this printer various places and it has been mentioned on the forum.  It is from  They are calling it the Elserbot.  It was not clear from the website or other blogs if this was an open source project, so I emailed Martijn Elserman.  He responded.

Hello Bart,

The design will be open source when we have finished the complete package hardware, electronics and software.
We will offer DIY kits.

Best regards,
Martijn Elserman

It looks like an interesting design.  The two obvious thing that jump out are the large build area and the use of the Bowden Cable style extruder.  The Bowden cable idea offers some benefits like reducing the size and weight of the print head and removing vibration.   Here are other versions of the Bowden cable.’s_Bowden_Extruder

elserbot 3D Printer

There are a few videos of it doing pen plots after the jump. Continue reading ‘New 3D Printer’


Laser Scanner Assembly

Engineer Andy Barry has created a new budget open source 3D scanner.  He calls it the MakerScanner and hopes to sell it through the MakerBot web site for around $200.  It uses the same laser line, offset webcam than many other systems use.  He does a good job of explaining on the web site.  There are even more details on his web site and Thingiverse.

The system uses galvanometers to move a mirror which moves the laser line.  A sine wave is output to one galvanometer so it creates a line from the laser diode.  The other scans it across the model.  All of the parts appear to be printed with a Makerbot.



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The Future of 3D Printing

3D Printing Presentation

This is a great presentation of the current and future state of 3D printing.  He gives tons of information and mentions a lot of interesting web links.

Singularity University is an interesting sound place.  It is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley.  Their mission statement is…

Singularity University  is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges.

3D Printer Cost Comparison

3D Printer Cost Comparison

Neil Underwood over at the RepRap Log Phase blog has put together a good guide for the relative costs of the various open source and commercial 3D printers.  These are limited to the thermoplastic extrusion types.

It includes basic starter kits, complete kits and fully assembled models.  It includes laser cut, CNC machines and printed versions.  There are also some rough ideas on complexity and reliability.

Makerscan – 3D Scanning from MakerBot?

3d Scanner Laser Principles


I was at the Detroit Maker Faire over the weekend.  It was quite a drive from Chicago, but well worth it.  The place was full of 3D printers.  Most of them were MakerBots and the others were mostly RepRaps (Darwins and Mendels).  It is great to see MakerBot Industries having success with an open source product.  I almost missed the actual MakerBot “booth”.  It was tucked behind a a few bigger displays.  They had a couple MakerBots printing away.  They were printing a lot of coin bottle openers. They have a slot for a coin that catches on the bottle cap.  …quick to print and a crowd pleaser.

3D coin bottle opener


I spent some time chatting with them about all of the DIY digital fabrication going on with printers, CNC machines, lasers, etc.  They mentioned that they had a project started to design and build a 3D scanner.  It makes a lot of sense because easily getting things into 3D format helps the whole movement along.  Below is a scan and print of Bre Pettis, one of the founders of MakerBot and Thingiverse.


Bre Pettis Printed In 3D


When I got home I started to look into the Makerscan and 3D scanners in general.  Unfortunately the MakerBot people are just getting started.  They have a links page, a Google Group and a decent sense of direction and that is about it right now.  The links page has a lot of good stuff.  I have heard of the David Scanner for a long time.  They have a complete kit.

David Scanner

David Scanner

David Scanner User Gallery

David Scanner User Gallery

Grasp 3D looks pretty cool too.

New 3D Printer For Sale

UP! Printer

There is a new additive thermo plastic printer for sale at  They call it the UP! printer.  They are selling the first 100 units for $1500 USD, then the price goes up to $2990 USD.  They claim a 0.2mm resolution.  The models do look quite good.  There was a video, after the jump.

UP! Printer

Continue reading ‘New 3D Printer For Sale’

Ink Jet 3D Printer

This looks like an interesting hack.  There are not a lot of details, but apparently there is some good information at the Yahoo DIY 3D Printing and Fabrication Group and at  It looks like a lot of work and the results are questionable, but if you’ve read any blogs here you know I never criticize people for showing early, but rough results.

It appears he uses paper sheets on the powdering tray to set the height of each pass.  Remove at sheet and the level moved down.  Great, simple, consistent idea.

See video after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Ink Jet 3D Printer’