Our club of space technology has a long history of interesting projects. A while ago I came up with an idea to create the biggest and fastest 3D printer in our university. We made preliminary plans with a few club members and got to work. The parts for the printer were either gathered from our club's storage or acquired via various sponsorships. Many parts are also paid by project members. I am coordinating the project, collaborating with plans and I have also done a lot of the build work.
The printer has a build area of 500 x 500 x 1000 mm, and it is capable of reliable print speeds up to a few hundred mm/s. It utilizes a commercial CNC controller kFlop, which has signal conditioning functions built in, but all other functions related to the machine's operation must be programmed by the user with C. The CNC controller itself is not enough for printing, so we have built a flexible system controller to work alongside the CNC controller. Our controller handles some sensors, heaters and an LCD, for example. The X and Y axes are AC servo and ball-nut driven, Z axis is stepper and ball-nut driven and the plastic extrusion axis is stepper and gear driven.
It took a lot of teamwork and debugging to get the device operational, but at the moment it is in the finishing stages, and soon it will be released for use for all club members. The printer works as a nice demonstration of a CNC system, and I believe that we have all learned a lot during the project.Download fact sheet, in Finnish
Purpose: university club project
Date: fall of 2015, spring of 2016
We have successfully manufactured objects with the printer. The printer works reliably. Some improvements have been planned for the future, such as water cooling for the printer's hot end and automatic plastic changing system. The printer is being actively used for making parts for the members of TUT's space tech club. The parts vary from rocket parts and robot frames to simple brackets.