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CHANGER - a toolchanger new interpreted

CHANGER - a motion system which can be used for advanced 3D-Printing with up to four materials, PnP, PCB-Milling, Layer inspection, etc...

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I've had the idea of a toolchanging 3D-printer/motion system for quite a while and started with some concepts to have the same utility as modern cnc milling machines (easy toolswap, fully automated calibration etc.). Approximately one year later I saw the first prototypes of the E3D-Toolchanger and quite liked the toolchanging head and followed the project to see if the toolchanging head improves over time. For my purpose a tested toolchanging head with a proper QM would allow me to focus on the boundary conditions of such a system (interfaces, watercooling, ultralight directdrive printheads, autocalibration of the tools, smart tools with NFC-capabilities). Other than that this System is fully customized with watercooling, HEPA-Filtering, kinematic coupled Z-Axis for non-planar-3D-printing, Air/Vacuumpump for cooling or PnP (vacuum), status LED under the Touchscreen shows progress, optionally: automated loading of the filament, etc. ...

Important Note: This Project is still work in progress and will be officially released with a proper YT-trailer.

Current To Do's:

  • Testing the directdrive toolhead
  • Decision for top-lid/enclosure
  • Testing custom tFreeN.g, tPre.Ng and tPostN.g macros
  • Calibration tool for the toolhead ((0/0) in center of Bed)

Future goals:

  • Camera calibration of the toolhead relative to the docking positions
  • Camera calibration to determine the tool offsets quickly and reliable
  • PrusaSlicer derivative with full control over different toolheads (plotting, printing, dispensing etc.)
  • Custom GUI for the printer

Inspirations:

As already mentioned I've used the CAD-files from the released E3D-Toolchanger (https://github.com/e3donline/ToolChanger) for a start. I quickly noticed that the E3D-guys didn't use standard parts such as the standoffs etc.

I therefore I started to fully customize the toolchanger with standard parts and heaviliy modified the frame and all of the motion parts.

The standard E3D uses a monorail printbed which works just fine but I will be able to perform non-planar-3d-printing (https://hackaday.com/2016/07/27/3d-printering-non-planar-layer-fdm/) with a always perpendicular printing nozzle.

I therfore implemented the kinematic coupled printbed from the jubilee-printer (https://jubilee3d.com/index.php?title=Main_Page) for a first concept. I like the idea of swappable builtplates. 


The consequences of a toolchanger:

Personally I think the motion system such as the E3D-Toolchanger is just the start of beeing called a ''toolchanger''.  A toolchanger in a more general sense gives you the freedom to easily interchange tools and even procedures (pcb-milling, PnP...). To achieve this versatility the most important features are:

  • Defined interfaces/connectors which allow easy toolswap
  • Room for periphal devices such as vacuum pumps, additional electronics etc.
  • Swappable or modular builindplatform

The modular mindset:

There is no doubt that the hurdles are high to create such a system but I think the key is to think and search for overlaps between the functions. An example is the vacuum pump. A common vacuum pumps uses a inlet and outlet connector. One way the pump sucks air in and creates an vacuum (if you block the inlet). On the other hand you have the outlet which blows air out (until you block the inlet). Therefore you can use the pump in the printing configuration to cool your printed part and in the pnp-configuration to create to vacuum and grip the components. To change the configuration you just have to switch between inlet and outlet (manually or with a valve) .

I'm trying to implement this mindset as good as currently possible to reach a high modular toolchanging system.

  • Mesh for openings (magnetic)

    Simon Wirz05/08/2022 at 08:36 0 comments

    To prevent dust from enterning to the lower compartment of the printer (Z-Axis stepper, PSU, Raspberry Pi etc.) I've added some filter mesh on the inlets/outles with magnetic strips to quickly clean the filter. 


    Some illustrations:

  • Tool-Log: 20W Laser Module (NEJE N30820)

    Simon Wirz04/29/2022 at 20:47 0 comments

    I ordered one the cheapest yet most powerful laser modules which should fit with some minor adjustments to the E3D-Toolchanger toolplate. 


    The Laser Module:

    Check the website for more information about the laser module: https://neje.shop/


    The CAD-Design

    I've disassembled the laser module and created a CAD-model which can be found here:

    https://grabcad.com/library/neje-n30820-laser-module-20w-1

    For the module to fit you'll have to adjust the ToolChanger Receiver by removing the ''front part'' like illustrated above:

    The link to the E3D-Part: https://e3d-online.com/products/toolchanger-receiver

    For the slot feature to work you'll have to adjust the aluminium-profile body of the laser module as well. The implemented laser module will look like that:


    Required adjustments
    • Milling of the ToolChanger receiver (illustration above)

    • Milling of the aluminium housing of the laser module 

    • Milling of the housing for clearance of the coupling mechanism

  • Topcover finished printing

    Simon Wirz03/12/2022 at 23:17 3 comments

    After some printing the topcover is finally completed (from the fdm point-of-view). I'll order the acrylic panels soon (drawings and dxf-files already prepared)


    The frame of the topcover


    The pin feature of the top and middle-section is slightly off that's why there is a clearly visible gap on the both top parts. I'll try to better align them or even glue them together to eliminate the misalignment. I think the misalignment comes from the drillout because the tilted boreholes where slightly to tigtht and I had to drill them out manually.

  • Topcover is taking shape

    Simon Wirz03/09/2022 at 11:08 0 comments

    The started building process of my third topcover design is slowly taking shape:

    https://hackaday.io/project/175489-changer-a-toolchanger-new-interpreted/log/203393-continuing-topcover-design

    After some printing (roughly 60h) there's some progress visible...


    Some impressions:

    All parts are designed in a way that there are minimal supports needed as you can see in the picture above. This angle without support and 0.2mm layer-height is no problem at all. 

    The back portion of the topcover is printed and assembled and I think it could look good. I didn't order the panels yet because I want to see if I'm fully satisfied with the look of it. 


    Front-top part WIP

  • Implementation of new cable bushings

    Simon Wirz03/08/2022 at 15:05 0 comments

    As mentioned in the previous log I've designed a cable bushing to prevent the cables from taking damage due to vibration over the lifetime of the printer. 

    -> https://hackaday.io/project/175489-changer-a-toolchanger-new-interpreted/log/203818-improvement-of-the-cable-openings

    I've printed the mainframe in PLA and the three individual bushing with TPU (middle-soft)


    Printing the TPU-parts:

    Some parameters:

    240°C (1st Layer 250°C), 30mm/s (1st Layer 15mm/s), 0.2mm layer height


    Final assembly of the cable-bushings

    It's not perfect (I could have switched the + and - of the 12V OUT so that there is no twist but I've noticed that to late in the process. But afterall I'm quite satisfied with this style of cable-bushing with the TPU-innerpart for better cable protection.

  • Improvement of the cable openings

    Simon Wirz03/07/2022 at 18:09 0 comments

    I initially planned to create/design proper cable bushing for all the cable openings but never designed the actual cable bushings. I've implemented the threads in the sheet metal parts but didn't design the actual bushings. 


    Status quo

    The opening for the 230V-Input, 12V-Output and 230V-Heatbed is the first one which I want to improve.


    Design process

    For this opening there should be five cable bushings in total:

    - 3-cables for L , N and PE of the 230V (I'll change the color as soon as I get the right cables) @3.5mm

    - 2-cables for + and - of the 12V for the Duet-Board @3.5mm

    - 2- cables (insulated) for the 230V-Heatbed @3mm

    I'll continue with a two piece design of which the first part is shown above. It consinst of a robust Mainpart (picture above) and a elastomeric inner-part (in process of designing)

    The three TPU bushing inserted and ready to be tested. The bushings are nearly split in half so you can easily insert the cables and then push them inside the housing/cable bushing frame to secure. 

    At the end there is a small lip which should interlock with the cable bushing frame to ''lock'' when fully inserted. We'll see...

  • Continuing topcover design

    Simon Wirz02/21/2022 at 21:39 0 comments

    Altough I'm not fully satisfied with the current top design I'll start buidling the 2nd Prototype which I've showed in the last log. The hole top cover will be printed with a normal FDM-printer with a built plate area of an A4 (210x297mm) and therefore it's little bit tricky to cut this large part in different pieces.


    The different sections:

    The top cover is split up in two main halfs. The half section is split up again in six different segments. The parts are mounted and secured with rods and bolt-on segments. 


    Max-out the build volume of my 3d printer

    The parts fit quite tight inside the mentioned build volume of 210x297x200 (lxbxh) but It should work for a first top cover.


    I've tried to design the parts in a way that the need of support structures is a low as possible to save filament and reduce print time. The latter should be around 120h of print time which is enormous compared to my usual 3-8h prints.


    Building/Printing the first parts

    The first four parts of the topcover are printed and mounted on the printer. So far so good and maybe the design grows on me over time so I don't have to design a completely new one

  • New top cover Design (wip)

    Simon Wirz11/27/2021 at 12:17 0 comments

    I wasn't happy with my initial top cover designs but I want one since day one. It's quite cumbersome to clean or remove the dust every once in a while from all the motion parts and connectors on top so I want mainly top cover to solve that. Of course it should help with chamber temperatures but to be honest that's not my main goal anyway (to print like in a chamber with +100°C) 

    My initial designs: 

    https://hackaday.io/project/175489-changer-a-toolchanger-new-interpreted/log/195964-mixed-opinions-topcover-design

    My new approach:


    The new top cover should consist of seperate portions which can be sticked/glued together. I've designed to not use sheet metal parts because I want to itegrate some latches/hinges in the front and backpart to easily access the top area of the printer to maintain, check tools or change tools. 

    This cover is stil a mockup to play with the design before I'll fully redesign the top cover with individual segments. Of course the acrylic panels are missing in the design as well but in the end there will be 5mm acrylic side panels as well.


    Top-view:

    I tried to include design elements from the mainstructure and merged it to the top. One example is the groove which represents the 3060-Extrusions from the base-assembly.


    Mockup - almost completed

    In the end my main goal is that you can open the front panel of the top cover (hinged) but I still have to think of the propere hinge type for that. Maybe I'll design my own with a rasting-feature to ''lock'' the front panel in place.

  • Improvement x-axis endstop

    Simon Wirz08/28/2021 at 15:47 0 comments

    Because I'm not a big fan of sensorless homing I implemented mechanical endstops for the x and y axis right from the beginning. The y-axis endstop is directly implemented in the idler-belt-tensioner and therefore in the same plane of the xy-motion system. The x-axis however was screwed to the extrusion of the frame what I never really liked because of the interface and the added error possibility when the coreXY-plate is removed and assembled again.


    The old x-endstop:

    I also didn't like the way it looked with the large fdm-part and the micro switch clearly visible from all sides.

    The new endstop:

    For the new endstop design I had to drill two 2mm boreholes for two M2-threads. 

    After the taping I've installed the endstop holder (SLA-printed, printed on the Form 1+) with an OMRON switch installed. Because the new endstop is on the opposit side (x-direction) I had to rewire the endstop cable and re-configure the Duet firmware.

    Now I can easily disconnect the endstop and take off the coreXY-plate without worrying about re-calibration or re-checking the position of the toolhead relative to the printbed. 

  • SLA-Printer for more details

    Simon Wirz08/25/2021 at 08:38 0 comments

    To improve the quality of the CHANGER I always wanted to use SLA-Parts for a.) better appearance without a lot of post processing (grinding, painting etc.) and b.) better dimensional accuracy. 


    The acquisition - Form 1+ :

    Altough this printer is quite ''old'' and uses standard galvos (galvanometer) instead of a faster LCD it prints quite fast and accurate. Because of my work with LiDAR's in the industry I'm quite familiar with the mechanics and therefore now how to handle, maintain and repair such optical systems. I've quickly designed and printed a VAT-Cover to better handle the fumes when not in use. 


    First successfull prints for the CHANGER :

    For the first practical print with my Form 1+ I designed/adjusted the toolhead cover for sla printing and implemented the shorter CHANGER-Logo to test the resolution and finer details. 

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socket23 wrote 05/14/2022 at 09:02 point

This is insane!! Also exactly what I am just starting to work toward building for myself. You seem to have all the same goals in mind. I love how through this is. Excelent job. I would love to see an update and get in touch for permission to use certain ideas and how you were able to implement some of the functions here. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Simon Wirz wrote 05/21/2022 at 20:40 point

Thank you for your appreciation. My updates are currently done in the log-section so go check it out. 

My project is meant to be an inspiration for other projects so I'd love to see your interpretation of such a system. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shane Hooper wrote 11/28/2021 at 05:06 point

I like the kinematic bed design. I kind of want to try MGN rails bed leveling system on my Solidcore CoreXY build similar to the HeVort Triple Z-axis setup.

  Are you sure? yes | no

gaaunapoi wrote 10/15/2021 at 03:46 point

That looks like a cool project, many good ideas. I am working on  my own,  and I really like your tool head cover you designed! Do you have a file for the new tool head cover? Thanks

  Are you sure? yes | no

Simon Wirz wrote 10/29/2021 at 07:03 point

Thank you for your feedback. I'll upload the cover to the "Files" section for you to download. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Greg Holloway wrote 07/20/2021 at 08:01 point

Very cool! I envy your bed :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Simon Wirz wrote 07/20/2021 at 10:19 point

Thank you for your feedback and good work on the toolchanger toolhead and docking mechanism. For sure safed me some time to use such a ecosystem :)

After some small modifications my bed design could be added to the original E3D-Toolchanger but you'll lose some build volume in the y-direction. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Greg Holloway wrote 07/20/2021 at 11:16 point

Good to know we helped :) Our intent was to make ToolChanging accessible, and reliable. 

Maybe in the next version of the Motion System we'll have a 3 point bed :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

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