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:


  1. Hi, looks like you have a lot of nice work! and I really like your light switches on Etsy! I was wondering if you could let me know what software you use with your CNC machine? I actually have the same one but I was only able to get it working with a program called "K-Cam". Also, what drivers do you use to control the machine? I bought a kit of stepper motors on Ebay because my CNC did not come with motors. I'm very interested in making my own clay/wax extruder and was wondering if you could give me any tips. Look forward to hearing from you.

  2. John
    Thank you, I enjoyed building the clay printer and enjoyed making the switches also.

    I use LinuxCNC to control the machine (for both cnc routing and the clay printer). I like linuxCNC. It is free, there is pretty good documentation, and I only use linux on my computers which are mostly second hand and I do not want to pay for MS. For the shapes I have printed I just use a little math and wrote a python script that writes gcode. Most the 3D things I have printed have been things with no infill or supports, like cups and vases.

    On the little Zen Toolworks CNC I used a Gecko G540 to drive the steppers. They are expensive but worked out of the box. I built a bigger printer and used a Chinese stepper driver (I do not remember which). I was not so happy with the Chinese driver as it makes a loud hissing sound, but it works. I have been recently playing with the RAMPS 1.4 board and like it but have not gotten very far along with it yet.

    As far a general advice I do not have a lot. It was easer than I thought it would be (maybe beginners luck). I would like to see how it comes out and if I can answer anything a little more specifically, let me know.