I put together my new extruder controller, the worm pulley drive mechanism with the GM17 tiny stepper hack and the stainless steel extruder with heatsink and ducted fan to make possibly the most complicated extruder design yet!
You can see a better view of the drive mechanism fitted on another extruder base here: -
Here is a reminder of what the heater assembly looks like: -
The heatsink is cooled by a tiny fan. When run from 12V it is very noisy and way too powerful. With my new controller I can run it with PWM just a bit faster than its stall speed. That keeps the noise down and still gives more cooling than needed. I attached a thermistor to the heatsink by gluing it into a crimp tag with J-B Weld.
I can tell the controller to keep the temperature below a specified level by turning the fan on and off. I set the trip point to an arbitrary 35°C. It will even turn it on when the extruder is idle, much like the radiator fan of a car runs after the engine is switched off. This is needed to ensure PLA will never soften and jam in the cold part of the tube.
I run the tiny stepper motor at about 300mA to keep it cool enough to touch. It will take more current than that but runs very hot. A good design would use a single fan to cool the motor and the heatsink.
I ran the motor with micro stepping, so even though it has a 15° step, that gives 192 steps per revolution. The GM17 gearbox has a reduction of 228:1 giving a massive 43,776 steps per revolution of the worm pulley. That seems a lot, but the diameter of the pulley is 13mm, so one turn is 40.84mm of feed. That gives 1072 steps per millimetre. In comparison I have been using an 816 step shaft encoder and an 0.8mm pitch thread, which gives 1020 steps per millimetre, almost the same.
I started extruding ABS with my usual feed rate of 16mm/s for 0.5mm filament, which is 3.14 mm3 per second. I kept doubling it until it failed, which was 128mm/s if I have got the calculations right. At that point it mostly worked but something was slipping occasionally. I think it was the clutch in the gearbox. Backing off to 64mm/s it works fine. That is four times faster than the GM3 manages with a screw drive. It is too fast for HydraRaptor but I reckon my Darwin could go that fast. I have no idea what the build quality would be like but it would get the time to print one down to about 24 hours.
Here is a video of it spewing out plastic.