Expanding Omaha’s 3D Printing Capabilities — Delta Printer Build
In order to keep up with the increasing demand for services our Omaha office, we recently decided to add another 3D printer to our growing fleet. The newest member of the 3D KüL Factory family, a Rostock MAX from SeeMeCNC, came to us as a giant box of kit parts. Now, it’s become our new workhorse for a large art museum project.
Why a delta printer?
For starters, they look completely different from other common printers — in an extremely cool way. Seriously, just take a look at how this machine looks!
Instead of having a set of gantry rails for the X, Y and Z axes with a belt or threaded rod attached to each to move the extruder (or bed) around, the delta has four-bar parallelogram linkages. One end of each of these linkages is attached to a sliding carriage on a vertical tower, and the other goes to an “end effector” which holds the hotend. Because of the three towers, the Rostock also has a circular build plate — That’s not something you’ll see on any Makerbot!
Aside from looking just plain awesome, delta printers are great because they get rid of a lot of common problems associated with standard cartesian printers (like Makerbot, Ultimaker, Zortrax, and most Repraps). Here’s the short list of benefits:
- Since every axis is interconnected (you can’t move in any horizontal direction without moving more than one arm), issues with uniform belt tension are reduced, meaning fewer headaches trying to make round circles in your prints.
- Having a vertical belt configuration means the weight of the arms and end effector are always giving the belts more tension, which helps to essentially eliminate belt backlash. Plus, the tensioning system is really easy on the Rostock.
- Z-axis backlash is also almost completely eliminated, since there aren’t any sloppy threaded rods being used!
- The Rostock has a bowden tube to feed filament into the hotend. This is nice because it gets rid of the weight of the extruder motor on the end effector, making it easier to make fast print moves (around double the speed of most direct-drive cartesian printers).
- Having the same belts and gearing for each axis means that every direction is equally fast — no more slow-moving z lifts!
- Delta printers typically have permanently mounted build plates. Because of their rigid frame and repeatable movements, you only really have to level the build plate once (and without the hassle of an auto-level probe)!
Okay, I get why deltas are so cool. But why not just buy a pre-assembled printer?
If you look at the delta printer market, there are plenty of places that sell pre-built and calibrated printers. Here are just a few places to check out:
So why not just get one pre-assembled? We had two main reasons:
- We really wanted to expand our capabilities. Most of the pre-built delta printers on the market are good base-line models, but we already have decent printers. We needed something new. For one, the Rostock MAX is HUGE. It can print objects up to 11 inches in diameter and 14.5 inches tall! That’s taller than our high-end, production grade Fortus 250mc can print, which means we can do a ton more with large prototypes. The other big benefit is the fact that the Rostock comes standard with a heated build plate — making it so we can use all kinds of cool engineered thermoplastics like ABS, conductive ABS, Nylon, High Impact PolyStyrene (HIPS), Poly Vinyl Alcohol (PVA), Polyurethane rubber, and more. By getting a large printer with a heated bed, we were able to greatly add to our productivity and capabilities.
- Cost. The Rostock MAX we bought as a kit was only $999. Compare that to the identical pre-assembled Rostock from Trick Laser for $2400. With that level of savings, we might just go out and get ourselves a second printer!
Got it. Now get to showing off the build already!
Here’s an awesome time lapse of our build — with all of the tool throwing, hair pulling and name-calling edited out (Just kidding! The Rostock was actually surprisingly easy to build as a kit, thanks in part to good design and an awesome manual):
VIDEO COMING SOON!
And here’s a neat video of the Rostock’s first (and I mean first — no attempted prints before this one) print!
VIDEO COMING SOON!