Motorized Conveyor Belt Sneak Peek

A few hours ago I printed on an automated conveyor belt build platform. The hardware is functional, but I’m sure I’ll think of improvements over the next week. I’ll post a better video and pictures in the next few days.

UPDATE 2010-04-29 0606: Here’s a second test.

UPDATE 2010-04-30 0314: It works.

UPDATE 2010-05-01 2230: It even conveys large area prints like butterflies.

UPDATE 2010-05-02 12:22Over night print test yielded ten beautiful bottle openers. No major effect on mylar conveyor belt. Here’s the eleventh being printed.


Heated Conveyor Belt Build Platform

Last night I added the MakerBot heated build platform to my conveyor belt build platform and experienced success.

In the first test the Kapton is unsanded. The printed object sticks pretty well during the build and pops off easily when reaching the conveyor belt’s end.

In the second test the Kapton is sanded with 220 grit sand paper. While sanding clearly works well with the Kapton in the MakerBot heated build platform, I could not tell if it improved anything with my belt Kapton.

During both of these tests the belt was not under much tension. This allowed the edges of the belt parallel to the direction of belt motion to bow up. I believe the air gap between the belt and build platform due to bowing left the kapton belt at a lower than ideal temperature, reducing the adhesive force.

Further research questions:
-Does sanding help with this material?
-Does thinner aluminium help?
-Does thinner belt material help?
-Does tension solve the bowing problem?

MakerBot 3D Printer Giveaway!

MakerBot Industries is giving away a free CupCake CNC 3D printer in a 3D design contest celebrating their cover story in Make Magazine. There’s over 80 entries so far with more coming in each day.

Just upload your 3D model to Thingiverse and post a link to it in the comments of the Makezine blog post. You should upload any files you have for your object, exporting in STL is particularly important as that can be opened by many programs (use ASCII output in units of mm). The deadline is May 5th, so get your objects on Thingiverse now!

Heated Kapton is Beautiful

Update 2010-04-18: Bre posted the video from the great night of kapton sanding.

I’ve been testing the new MakerBot Heated Build Platform and discovered something that make me very happy. Sanding the Kapton film with 220 grit sand paper makes printed objects stick perfectly. See the video below.

After an initial bit of frustration with the heated build platform I sanded the surface with 220 grit sand paper, increasing the surface area significantly, thus increasing the adhesive force. Since doing this I’ve had fewer failed prints, most of which were due to the Kapton being too cool.

Take a look a the difference in Kapton surface texture in the image below. The left side is unsanded. The right, sanded.

I’ve only tried the 220 grit paper, so I encourage everyone to test different coarsenesses and comment on your results. As I develop the conveyor belt build platform I will surely use the sanding method. The heated build platform is worth every penny.