3d printer extruder stepper motor

0 comments

3d printer extruder stepper motor

How can I build a metal 3D printer at home? I'm an electronics engineer interested in building my own metal 3D printer?

Don’t do it. You will likely waste alot of money and it will be a fools errand.

There is a reason WHY commercial metal DMLS printers are expensive. They are NOT simple to make.

First, you need to understand what the DMLS printer IS. It is, essentially, a pressurised chamber with inert gas that is laser welding metal powder together.

So, what do you need?

  1. First, you need a pressure vessel. It doesn’t need to be a very highly rated pressure vessel, but it DOES need to mantain an environment of inert gas. Do note you need to build this together with all your subsequent moving parts. This is a pretty major engineering challenge in and of itself, and if you could do this, you could set up your own small business! This step is critical, because without the inert gas environment, it is likely to be unsafe and you will have a fire.
  2. Within your pressure vessel, you need a way to integrate one z-axis elevator with a removable, heat treated metal plate (this is your build platform) and one way to deliver metal powder. You could do it with a second elevator of powder beside the build platform, or deliver it via the top. You must include a means of smoothing out the powder, which means typically a roller blade (whether soft or hard) and a means of capturing the excess powder.

See above. SLM solutions build chamber. The powder recoater is the big unit you see at the back, which includes powder dispensing and a recoater blade. Excess powder is captured at the front. Vents on the left and right dispense argon gas, and the laser fires at the top.

In all these, some key critical specs:

Your build platform must be precison machined VERY flat.

Your z axis elevators must be able of precise motion control down to at least 0.05mm.

Your recoater blades must be able to ensure an evenly smooth powder coat.if not, you get porosity in your prints.

By the way, it would also be useful to have an integrated sieving unit to recycle used powder if you want operating costs not to skyrocket!

3. Lasers- now, the above was the easy bit. Integrate your lasers- you need at least a 400w laser, PLUS you need the optics know how to change focus spot size and laser power consistently. You need to do hundreds of experiments with your chosen metal powder and laser parameters to ensure you get good results.

4. Now, finally tie it all together with the software. Use a good quality slicer and then translate that into the motion control instructions for all mechanical components and the lasers.

Throughout this whole process, remember that metal powders are TOXIC and some are EXPLOSIVE. So please, handle with care.

I strongly discourage you to do this as a home project because it is a dangerous and difficult project that is likely to end up a waste of money. I know of a local laser machine company that recently released their own dmls metal printer, and they took about 6 years of research to release it. This is a small-medium enterprise with extensive laser know how, mind. You are not likely to do better than them.

With several key patents in DMLS technology expiring, you are likely to see costs of metal printers falling in the coming years.

Cloudray Stepper Motor Operation Video

 

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing
You have successfully subscribed!