How to automate printing of multiple parts continuously?

15

I would like to print multiple parts continuously (non-interactively), so I can leave the printer alone for a longer time. So after finish, parts could be moved somehow out from the printing area, so the next can start.

Are there any methods of achieving that with standard desktop printers without having to use multiple printers?

kenorb

Posted 2016-01-12T21:55:29.397

Reputation: 2 245

What portion of the process are you asking about automation, there can be many steps which require interaction, including: loading filament, selecting model to print, preparation of printing bed, removal of completed prints, and fixing when broken, maintenance, etc. And secondly, what is the purpose of automating this step? Closer to 'mass manufacturing', increased output, decreased maintenance time?J. Roibal - BlockchainEng 2016-06-13T22:47:36.797

63D printing is not a very productive production technique for mass manufacturing (if not the least productive one). Creating several moulds from one master print is an example for a process that's simpler, faster, more stable and likely cheaper process.the third dimension 2016-01-12T22:05:41.663

1Ultimaker once showed a video where they printed bracelets on an exhibition as give aways. They used the print head to push the finished print of of the build platform. It probably was just some custom G-Code,..Lars Pötter 2016-02-23T18:18:00.917

Answers

13

The only thing I can think of off hand is an old mod for the early MakerBot machines. It first was released for the Thing-O'-Matic I believe, but is compatible with Replicator 1 machines (and its knock-offs). Here's the Thingiverse page, but look up Automatic Build Plate.

Essentially, you can use the Replicator G slicing program and there is a setting for "ABP" or Automatic Build Plate. This will basically tell the ABP to run its routine after the controller receives the response that the printing program is done and roll the finished part off the edge of the build plate, then start the same program over again.

Drawbacks:

  • I don't think it's easily compatible with newer machines/slicers. But, it's open source
  • Pretty sure you have to use Replicator G, which is outdated now and may make your machine sound like it's going to fall apart (I know from experience)

Going off of @Pete's answer about solenoids. It reminded me that someone integrated a solenoid "ejector" (aka Boxing Glove) for their machine.

Update (06/08/2016):

Forgot to mention that if you choose to create your own "Boxing Glove" or conveyor belt, some software such as Octo-Pi and Repetier-Host allow plugins. So, you could interface with your hardware via customized code and integrate the functionality directly into the slicing application for the full closed loop operation.

tbm0115

Posted 2016-01-12T21:55:29.397

Reputation: 5 932

The hardware design of the ABP is open source, but the method to use it for 3D printing was patented by Makerbot after they hired on the inventor (Charles Pax) so anyone who wants to use it (or any other conveyor-based build plate) needs to check local patent laws in their country.Ryan Carlyle 2016-04-12T18:04:12.690

6

An option that might be feasible for some situations (depending on your setup) is Sequential Printing - a feature provided by some slicing software, for instance Slic3r.

In short, this allows you to print multiple objects one at a time rather than simultaneously. This has some obvious benefits, but also some downsides:

Benefits:

  • Each object is finished individually, and you will therefore not have multiple half-finished prints when something goes wrong.
  • No particular printer or bed swapping mechanic is needed.

Downsides:

  • With most consumer printer, print area is somewhat limited, and sequential printing requires you to place objects so that the hot end can move freely between the finished objects, potentially restricting the effective usage of your print volume.
  • By printing objects one at a time, you limit the natural print cooling that happens when printing multiple objects at the same time. In particular for smaller prints, you might not want to print sequentially unless your print cooling solution is up for it.
  • Requires some setup

You specifically mention that you would like the finished prints to be moved outside the print area. In it self, sequential printing does not do this for you; however, if you fit your printer with a large, motorized print bed, you might achieve the same effect without moving into unfamiliar technology!

Tormod Haugene

Posted 2016-01-12T21:55:29.397

Reputation: 3 764

I like the "when something goes wrong" lol Because if you own a home 3D printer, you'll understand!tbm0115 2016-01-14T15:17:25.660

@tbm0115, indeed! I normally remember to use sequential printing only after failing a multi-print job!Tormod Haugene 2016-01-14T16:07:00.280

2

It would be possible and not too terribly difficult to rig a servo or solenoid with a push plate like a plow, on top of your build plate.

However this would require another processor via raspberry pi or arduino to control it. Scripting execution when the print has completed wouldn't be terribly difficult either, but it isn't readily available and certainly isn't part of a mass produced printer.

My issue with the concept is if you push a bunch of prints off the build plate, what guarantee do you have they wont become damaged in the process?

Pete

Posted 2016-01-12T21:55:29.397

Reputation: 411

Like this? http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:872617

tbm0115 2016-01-14T15:21:59.300

-1

I Don't really think that it is possible without hardware modifications, or maybe some small parts that will fit in the bed of the printer all on the same time

Dan Boyko

Posted 2016-01-12T21:55:29.397

Reputation: 13

Dan - what type of modifications do you believe will best serve the 'automation' process?J. Roibal - BlockchainEng 2016-06-13T22:50:48.617

For example long foldable bedDan Boyko 2016-07-01T23:59:28.650