Happy 2013 to everyone! I managed to get some time over the christmas break, and have made some progress on new toolheads for the next robot. I now have a new extruder designed, meant for vertical mounting, a MakerBot Mk7 drive gear, and a standard groove mount for J-HEad/MakerGear hot ends. I’ve got some fit/finish changes to make, then off to print it and test it. A vertical extruder has the motor on top of the hot end, instead of to the side, and mounts to a vertical plate instead of a horizontal one. This particular one is designed to mount to a 2020 metric face of an extrusion. It is compatible with EasyMaker, ShapeOko, and any other design that uses vertical plates.
Benefits of a vertical mount extruder:
- 100% z efficient on certain mill/printer designs. ( EasyMaker/ShapeOko/most CNC mills ).
- Power — full size motors and gearing allows large filament pushing power ( useful for unheated garage printing in Winter time ).
- Maintenance — Mk7 gear can be cleaned “live” — disassembly should never be needed to clean in this design.
It’s 100% z efficient on an EasyMaker/Shapeoko. That is, it can print all the Z height. I felt this important, since it allows CNC mills to function as printers without modification. Most Horizontal extruders take about 40mm ( 1.5 inches ) of Z height. If you’re using a CNC mill, which may have only 3″ to begin with, you can lose a lot of printable height with a horizontal mount extruder. With this extruder, you get it all. This efficiency does have a cost — this extruder requires support to print, and the cheapest service provider I could find would charge $100 to make one. It would be at least 3 setups to mill — and the geometry is pretty complex, so molding is out. That means I have to produce each one, since it isn’t affordable to make it any other way.
I hope to have pictures/videos of the new extruder in action sometime this month or so.