Friday 3 October 2008

Spurred into action

Forrest's success at milling spur gears with Tommelise 2.0 got me wondering how well RepRap can make them with Fused Filament Fabrication. An obvious test case are the two gears on Ian Adkins' alternative extruder design. These are laser cut, but look just about achievable with FFF. I couldn't find a picture of Ian's, these are a similar design by Vik Olliver.

Here is how they came out :-

The infill does not meet the toothed edge very well but they seem very strong never the less. They mesh well even though the involute profile seems a bit rounded off.

In an attempt to get the infill to work better I tried running my machine with 0.3mm filament, 0.24mm layers. I didn't make the nozzle hole smaller, I just changed one number in my software so the filament is being stretched finer. The result was interesting :-

The infill fills the teeth and is also very flat. The hole for the motor shaft has come out smaller and the teeth are a bit asymmetrical. They lean clockwise, the direction the outline is laid down in. I think this is because I am extruding 0.3mm filament through a 0.5mm hole so the point it exits from can move about but 0.2mm. I expect using a 0.3mm hole will solve that.

I also had a go at making a smaller version of my screw top pot with 0.3mm filament. I used the same g-code, I just scaled all the coordinates by 0.3/0.5.

It came out well and the thread still works.

With the finer filament it takes about 3 times longer to make anything so I upped the speed from 16mm/s to 32mm/s. That had an unfortunate side effect: The wall of the pot is quite thin so after the outline and inner wall have been extruded, the infill is a very narrow zig-zag. That makes it a high frequency movement. Speeding it up made it more like an audio vibration which seems to resonate the frame of my machine, shaking anything loose off the desk.

HydraRaptor growling from Nop Head on Vimeo.

Monday 22 September 2008

Going green

Getting a bit bored of natural ABS, which is cream coloured, I ordered some black and some green from New Image Plastics in the USA. Despite the high cost of shipping it still worked out cheaper than buying it in the UK. I chose green because it should be easier to photograph than black or white and it the RepRap logo colour.

I was surprised to find that it does not behave the same as the natural that I got from the RRRF. It does not seem to stick to itself, or to the base material, as well as the RRRF ABS did at the same temperature. I have raised all the temperatures by 15°C and, although it is better, I think it still needs bit more. It's appearance is more glossy, so that might account for it being less sticky, or it may just have a slightly higher melting point. I have no idea if the green dye has an effect or whether the base ABS is different. It will be interesting to try the black.

I made a new version of my screw top pot in order to perfect the thread before posting the STL files on the RepRap Objects wiki. It turned out to be nightmare to get it to print. Besides the problem of it not sticking to the bed, my extruder kept breaking GM3 gearmotors, but that's another story.

The ABS version came out about 1mm bigger in diameter than the HDPE version due to lower shrinkage.

I modified the thread to make it easier to start. The original thread started abruptly at the top of the pot and the bottom of the lid. I modified it in CoCreate by continuing the helix past the top of the pot and then milling it back to 2mm below the rim. I did the same to the lid's thread. That allows the lid to overlap 4mm before the threads engage, making it easier to line up. The thread now tapers out to a thin sliver to make it easy to engage. The result works a lot better than the previous attempt.

Monday 1 September 2008

Screw Top Pot

A day before going on holiday I decided I needed a container to store the lens adapter for my camera. The lenses have caps on each end, but they require and adaptor which is a bit delicate: -

I knocked up an HDPE pot with a screw top lid that just the right size to hold it: -

The outside diameter of the adapter is about 48.5mm so I made the pot I.D. 50mm to allow some clearance. It actually shrank to 48.5mm, so it is a snug fit. Lucky it didn't shrink any more!

I made the thread using the helix tool in CoCreate. You draw a 2D profile and then use the helix tool to spin that round an axis, specifying the pitch. The dimensions were just a stab in the dark: I made the crest of the thread 0.8mm as that is two layers (Nyquist sampling theorem) and made the sides 1mm long 45° slopes, so that made the crest height 0.7mm. The minimum pitch with this profile would be about 3mm so I made it 3.5mm to give some clearance. I also made the the lid 1mm bigger radius so there is 0.3mm clearance from peak to corresponding valley.

A couple of things I missed which would make it easier to engage: -
  1. The thread starts abruptly, but it should have a tapered lead in.
  2. Both the pot and the lid should have a few millimetres with no thread to aid lining them up before the thread engages.
Despite this it works surprisingly well for a first attempt with an arbitrary profile and dimensions.

I am slowly homing in on getting rafts peel-able for HDPE. I made this with the first layer outline hotter than its infill :-
HDPE.raft_temp = 215
HDPE.first_outline_temp = 230
HDPE.first_layer_temp = 205
HDPE.layer_temp = 240
Most of it peeled with a little encouragement from a chisel at one side.