Saturday, August 3, 2013

More clay extruding

Inside of a Gecko G540
 After about a month of dealing with a broken cnc and controller I have finally gotten my second clay extruder working. My Gecko G540 stepper controller blew a fuse. It uses a soldered in 7 amp fuse and is not the sort of thing I can get locally. So I ordered a few and when they came in I soldered one in and ... one channel of the controller was not working. So, I ordered another G250 from Geckodrive. I also sent an email to Gecko and they said send in the bad G250 and they will evaluate it, fix it (if possible), and send it back. I have not done so yet but I would like to offer a thank you to gecko for offering great customer service. In the picture of the drive you can see the bearing that started my month worth of trouble.

Second Clay Extruder
The new extruder looks nicer and works well but has some troubles. It will work until I get a third, hopefully better, built. The lower platform is too big and I can only print one thing at a time. If I try and printing a second something after printing a first more than 1 1/2" tall the lower platform bumps into the thing I first printed. This will be an easy fix. The other problem is that the clay leaked out the side of the PVC pipe when I start printing. I ended up hot gluing the pipe into the printer to stop this from happening. It works but it will be a little extra trouble when I have to put more clay into the tube. Still, the whole thing is about 10" shorter than  the last one and holds about 4 times more clay.

Flower in unfired vase.
Here are a few pictures I took of things I have printed with my first extruder. They were mostly just experimental shapes but I did manage to sell three of them. The picture with just three things are the three I sold. Sorry some of the pictures are upside down. I was putting "resist" on the bottoms. Apparently, when I glaze them the glaze came flow down the side and then stick to the bottom of the kiln. I have painted the glaze on about half and I hope to get the rest done this week.
Fresh, still on the printer.

Clay things.

And finally, another timelapse of clay printing:

Friday, July 5, 2013

3D Clay Extruder

  My first 3D Printer 

a clay printer

I have been messing around for a while at the Brookside Cabinet Shop in Bethleham Connecticut and the Connecticut Hackerspace in Watertown Connecticut. It has been both educational and fun but I figure I had better start producing useful (or at least a little interesting) things before people start getting tired of hearing me talk. So, since the hackerspace has some machinery and the cabinet shop has machinery, well as materials, a giant CNC, and a new Pottery Shop (the 550 Gallery). I figured I should make a 3D printer, one that prints in clay.

First I looked around the web to see what others have done.

There is some pretty good information out there. Some of the links are to powder type printers. They look promising but I have decided to work on a printer with an extrusion type printer.

This is what I have come up with.

 It is just a piece of 3/4" PVC stuck to a board and a screw with a plunger turned by a stepper (and a planetary gearbox I pulled out of a broken cordless rotary saw) to push the clay out a nozzle at the bottom of the PCV. The little stepper at the top of the picture on the right was a little to small and I borrowed a NEMA 23 motor to really get things to work.

The plunger was not quite tight enough in the PVC. You can see 2 or 3 inches of clay that slipped around the plunger in the picture on the left. So, I have added a hot glue gasket that works well.

Here are a few things I have made. Most of my work has been to make the hardware and I still have work to do to get the software end of things working.

I have also posted a video on Youtube (My 3D Printer in action). I hope to make some more improvements and post some more information about it soon. Enjoy.