Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Printing flexible cable guides...

There is not much to say about this.  Once I got two of the links printed and assembled so that I knew everything fit together, I bought a few hundred #4-40 3/4 inch machine screws and nuts to hold the parts together.  I'd designed the parts to perfectly seat a 3/4 inch machine screw and nut.

When I got home with my trove of fasteners from my stockist I discovered that his Chinese supplier had been making a little extra money by trimming his 3/4 inch screws (0.75 inch) down to 0.714.  What that meant was that the screws went all the way through the guide assembly but didn't emerge on the other side to allow the nut to be seated on the end of the machine screw.

My stockist is getting me some 7/8 inch machine screws as replacements and writing a hot note to the warehouse.  Quality assurance at the Chinese plant needs a bit of a rework, I think.

Interestingly, I had designed the holes for the #4 machine screws so that the threads engaged the sides of the holes, so actually nuts weren't required.  With that in mind I went ahead and assembled the flexible cable guide for the x-axis.  It seems to work perfectly.

I get a tight turn like I'd hoped with no clashing.  Right now I am up to 16 inches of a 24 inch assembly for the x-axis.  When I get the full 24 inches printed and assembled I will design and print the end mounts.

It will be interestingly how many hours of operation this kind of flexible cable guide will handle before something wears out.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Flex cable carrier

I've never been happy with the way that Rapman handles axis and extruder cabling, so I decided to print my own flex cable carrier system.  I saw several possibilities in Thingiverse.  Most of them were knockoffs of existing injection molded parts, however, and printed very poorly.

A few looked as if they were designed specifically for a 3D printer like this one...

I didn't much like this one largely because of the large turning radius for the flex.  I wanted something more like this...

Since my wiring was considerably more modest, however, I wanted something with a bit sharper turning radius still.  After several hours of trying out alternatives in Art of Illusion, I came up with this as a first try.

It is shown here with #4 bolts 1.5 inches long.  It can work interchangeably with #4 UTS/SAE - 3/4 inch or M3 - 20 mm bolts.  With fasteners it costs about $1.50/ft.  Commercially available alternatives average about $12.50/ft.

The system can make a 180 degree flex within 50 mm.  The next move is to get a couple of packets of #4 bolts and nuts and print a few feet of this to try with the x-axis cabling.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A "string wars" approach to the y-axis

Darwin and it's direct derivatives uses two belt loops driven by a shaft connected to a NEMA 23 stepper.

In Sampo, that dual loop arrangement has been replaced with a single large loop

The belt guides are equipped with standard 608 skateboard bearings with printed fenders.

Topologically, the y-axis is simply an attenuated version of the x-axis.