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.