Aha 3D megaprinter updates: assembly, motion and extrusion done!

Aha 3D megaprinter updates: assembly, motion and extrusion done!

See-saw sacra down, which is the way to London town?

One foot up and the other foot down. That is the way to London town!

Author Anonymous

Hello Gentlefolk. Welcome once again to the updates of the 1000 cubic foot 3D printer, that we are making here at our office in Jaipur, India. We have taken the next few steps since the last post, here’s sharing the same!

Click here to read the feels

I still remember the lines above from one of the rhymes textbooks; most probably from the prep school. The reason they stand out so loud and clear, is the way dad taught them to me. (he loves pedagogic English and the classics from Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and the like. That might have been a factor to his effectiveness). The elegance that he drove home – all we need to do to reach our destination is, put the next foot down. Taking the next step (and actually, and just the next step) is all that we need to do! This brings a lot of clarity in moments when the mind gets overwhelmed. The quaint little nursery rhyme is such a huge soul-saver for life, and is actually contributing to making of this huge 3D printer! (Through events like this, I can see my father has literally shaped me. More on this someday.)

A lot has happened over the last couple weeks!

The machine is now alive. The XYZ axes have done their motions, are tuned and calibrated. The biggest suspense items are behind us; the mechanical frame is holding up to all the horsepower, and the extruder has put out its first noodles from pellets 🙂 More details below!

Also we didn’t do too many mistakes in the groundwork; saying so because nothing has hurt in a major way so far. We are four days behind schedule; should have been here on 19th. But we’ve been far worse. The last machine was three MONTHS behind. So obviously I’m happy 🙂

Suspense still remaining: the first print is yet to come. Some electronics may give trouble. Then, the actual print surface still to be seen. This means that, we’re yet to see how the screw extruder does the printing, is it precise enough in depositing the plastic, is the machine vibrating at a smaller level, and the like. Also, is the machine precise enough over the entire build region, how is the backlash. How do the pellets behave, how fast we can deposit the layers before the inter-layer bonding becomes an issue. Stuff like that.

Many questions remain, but thankfully nothing so fundamental that it can throw the project off track. So let’s go on, confidently, to the happier points!

Assembling the frame

I couldn’t help blurting out the frame pic before this post! Its just so huge. Now here is the complete story!

It started with fixing some mechanical issues in parts. Like with every first iteration, some features were left out, which we completed in our workshop…

Drilling the Megaprinter frame
Drilling the Megaprinter frame

And then, it was a HUGE lego-like assembly fun activity for everyone here! We have been working nights, grinning all the way 🙂 My kind of team! Here is a candid compilation straight from the workshop:

  • Planning out where to begin
    Planning out where to begin

And here’s presenting to you, the timelapse of the frame assembly:

Nothing helps “corporate teamwork” as much as fastening 4 meter long slide rails together!

And here’s the final result:

Aha Star Megaprinter Frame complete
Aha Star Megaprinter Frame complete

Extruding the pellets

The pellet extruder is a very new beast for us. So far, we have driven the extruder with servos, via gcodes, and got the first extrusion.

Making plastic noodles
Output grams in 5 minutes

In the first couple of trials, we could get a maximum of 7.8 kg per hour flow rate.

Very encouraged! We’ll gun for 10kg/hour on the machine itself. The extruder is now mounted on the frame too:

Extruder mounted. Don’t mind Dinesh’s face – he is just dramatizing. The actual load is on the crane 😉

Motions are done. So is the wiring. Extrusion trials ongoing. There is too much media in this post already, so I will save the rest for the next post. Thanks for reading!

You are welcome to explore more posts in the megaprinter series: