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Old 23rd Dec 2016, 12:57   #1
Byron C
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Build log: Tantillus 3D printer

Anyone who's been following my posts in the 3D printing thread may be aware that I've started building a new 3D printer. I thought I'd create a build log thread to track my progress. This thread is more more for my benefit (and that of anyone else interested in this printer) than anyone else, as it'll serve as a useful log when it comes to documenting everything at the end.

Background: I currently own a HICTOP 3DP-11 3D printer. It looks exactly like this one:



But mine is slightly older: it's only 12V and doesn't have the inductive probe (yet...). It works, but the quality of the parts isn't exactly the highest because this was a cheap kit. I get quite a few problems which are caused by: warped parts, poor quality materials, poor design, etc, etc; all of these issues translate into poor quality prints. Don't get me wrong, this printer does work; I can print parts and I can get some good quality results out of it. But I don't spend much time actually printing anything because I spend so much time tweaking and adjusting things or replacing parts. There are a lot of parts I'd like to print, and having to coax this printer into getting good results every time is frustrating.

I started looking for smaller, more compact RepRap designs. A smaller build volume means that the carriage(s) have less distance to travel, and there's less chance of introducing "slop" and errors in the print. A Bowden-style extruder would be a bonus because it would reduce the weight of the nozzle carriage. A lighter nozzle carriage means that you can move it faster (increasing your print speed) and lessens the chance of "ringing" issues in prints. I quickly discovered the Tantillus design:



It ticked all my boxes: it's small, lightweight, uses a Bowden extruder, and produces excellent results "out of the box":





It's quite an old design by RepRap standards - it was first released in Feb 2012 and last updated a year later in May 2013 (see RepRap wiki page). The original designer is no longer updating this design, but is still active over on the Tantillus section of the RepRap Forums.

This design has been adapted and updated a number of times. A few variations of this design have been created by a number of RepRap/Thingiverse users. The ones that caught my attention were the "A" variants created by a user named "leonal": the A2, A3, and A4. The A3 and A4 were quickly discounted as they have larger build platforms (16x16x16cm and 20x20x20cm); the point of this project is to have a fast compact printer. But in the end I decided to use the original design - pretty much all the variants/adaptations all used a laser cut case. I totally get why you'd use a laser cut case instead of a 3D printed one: everything should be flat and perfectly at right angles, there's no "sloppiness" in the case due to an inaccurate printer. The entire point of the RepRap project initially was to create "self-replicating" machines (obviously you can't print the electronics, rods, etc), and the idea of using a 3D printer to make another 3D printer is still quite compelling. Plus the original design has the best documentation, some of the variants have absolutely no information other than a list of parts to print/cut.

The biggest problem I'm going to face is that the original design uses lots and lots of weird imperial measurements - take a scroll through the BOM to see what I mean. When I started printing parts I didn't think that this would be a big deal; the most important parts are the mechanical parts, like rods and lead screws, etc. A 5/16" drill rod is 7.93mm, which is probably well within the tolerance of most of the 8mm rods people buy for 3D printers (unless you're buying super expensive hardened steel rods, which there really isn't much advantage in doing). But what I should have really done is checked the list of screws I'd need - there are a lot of imperial screws... I've started a separate thread about this, but if anyone can point me to a good UK/EU supplier of imperial bolts/nuts/screws I would be much obliged - and if anyone in the US wants to help me out then I'd gladly discuss further.

So. The current plan is to print all the parts I'm going to require before I start assembly. At the moment I'm working on the case - this photo represents ~58hrs of printing and ~430g of filament.



You can see the banding/ringing problems I get with my current printer.

Once I've done the case - I'm about half way through - I need to print the case connector pieces, and then I'll start doing the Z axis. The original design calls for threaded rods but screw that - I'm going to use a lead screw instead. Lead screws are just better: they're designed for linear motion and threaded rods are not. Threaded rods will be inaccurate and they will wear.

I think I'm going to give my printer a break for today, and tomorrow I'm going to work on some more mods to it. I discovered yesterday that the latest Marlin firmware revision looks like it has automatic mesh bed leveling support - RESULT. Plus my build plate looks way off - it's level, and the rods/frame are all flat (as measured with a spirit level), but the build plate shouldn't have that much variation between the front and back:



Will try to keep this thread up to date!
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Old 25th Dec 2016, 18:59   #2
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