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3D Printing

5 Posts authored by: Drew Fustini

jkridner of and Texas Instruments just wrote a blog post on how to control a 3D Printer with the BeagleBone BlackBeagleBone Black (a $45 Open Source Hardware 1GHz ARM single board computer):


The skinny on getting your puppy to print - Tools Insider - Blogs - TI E2E Community

Here's the quick overview of what you'll need to produce your very own first prints in 3D plastic, before we dive into any details:

  1. Processor to control your printer — such as provided by the TI Sitara AM335x on BeagleBone BlackBeagleBone Black
  2. Electronics to drive your positioning and extruder motors, extruder heating element, heating plate and limit switches — such as provided by a BeBoPr-Plus Cape, Pololu #2133 stepper motor drivers using TI DRV8825 devices and an off-the-shelf power supply
  3. Mechanical structure with drive motors, extruder, heating elements, build surface and limit switches — such as provided by aRepRap Huxley
  4. Software to run the slice up the 3D models into GCode, an interpreter for the GCode and to send pulse trains to the stepper motor drivers — such as is provided by the Machinekit Linux distribution based on Debian, Robert Nelson's image building tools and Charles Steinkuehler's integration work
  5. Models for the components you want to build — such as these Mendel plastic components on Thingiverse
  6. Patience — give yourself plenty of time when getting started with 3D printing and you'll find it a fun and rewarding endeavor!

Farnell and Newark do stock the BeBoPr capeBeBoPr cape and the BeagleBone BlackBeagleBone Black


Here's a video from Angstrom Linux maintainer, Koen Kooi, of his BeagleBone-powered 3D printer:




At Chicago hackerspace Pumping Station: One, Bart Dring runs MachineKit on BeagleBone Black:


BeagleBone LinuxCNC blog

MachineKit is a "a turn-key BeagleBone SD Card image, based on Robert C Nelson's omap-image-builder scripts and the LinuxCNC machine control software to allow easy experimentation and to promote the use of LinuxCNC in the 3D printer and maker communities."


Bart has the BBB control stepper motors connected via his DIY version of the BeBoPr cape:



Here is LinuxCNC in action:



My YouTube playlist:


MachineKit: LinuxCNC on BeagleBone Black (Pumping Station: One's CNC night)


Bart has now developed a PCB which he named Rosseta Bone - a "universal" CNC translator for BeagleBone Black:


CNC Translator for BeagleBone



Finally, although LinuxCNC has CNC in the name, LinuxCNC can also run 3D printer.  The creator of MachineKit demostrates:




A headline from a recent Maker Pro newsletter caught my attention:!


Get ready for a new genre of 3D printer: the “hybrid personal fabricator” that combines 3D printing with other related capabilities.

One of the machines featured is the Microfactory being developed by Mebotics at Boston-area Artisan's Asylum (which I visited last weekend after the Open Hardware Summit):


"The Microfactory, which describes itself as “a machine shop in a box,” is a combination 3D printer and CNC mill. The unit also has an onboard computer, which expands its networking capabilities. A team based at the Artisan’s Asylum makerspace in Somerville, Mass., Mebotics, just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Microfactory. They are hoping to raise a cool $1 million. To reserve a unit, you need to pledge at least $4,495. Estimated delivery: October 2014."


Their kickstarter has quite someway to go with 13 days left:


One way or another, I can't wait until these so called hybrid personal fabricators cheap enough for a hobbyist to afford (like me ).




Howdy - I attended the Inside 3D Printing Expo in Chicago last week.  There was a wide array of commercial 3D printers (e.g. additive manufacturing) but the most jaw-dropping for me was the Mcor IRIS:


image source:

It took me awhile to grasp what was going on with this machine.  Their software slices a full color 3D model into layers that are printed by a normal inkjet printer onto regular copier paper.  The stack of paper is then loaded into the Mcor IRIS where it is feed into the machine one sheet at a time:


     image source:


Here is the the inkjet printer and MCor IRIS feeder in action:



The IRIS then makes precision cuts of each sheet and apply glue to bind the pages together:



The objects that emerge from the ream of paper feel very solid, and it's hard to believe their composition is just copier paper:

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It's so life-like that Google Photos recognizes it as a face and asks if I want to tag a person in my photo!


Here's a close-up of the different types of objects printed with the MCor IRIS:



One of the novel applications of printer-based 3D printer is 3D wedding photos!

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I met Matthew of Tessaract Industrial at the Make: Hardware Innovation Workshop and Maker Faire Bay Area 2013:


He has a Raspberry Pi embedded in his 3D printer:


He is also developing software for the Raspberry Pi which will perform "slicing" calculations using the Pi's GPU so that a separate PC isn't needed.  An Arduino is used for motor control and connects via USB to Pi for serial communication.



Former Pumping Station: One member, Jeff McAlvay, showed off an UltiMaker 3D Printer he modified into a Pick and Place machine (essentially a robot that assembles circuit boards):


It's a prototype of his vision for an Electronics Factory device.  Further details are available on his company website, Tempo Automation:

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Jeff was using a full Linux x86 laptop to control the Electronics Factory prototype, so I gave him a BeagleBone Black which should fit better into his form factor.


I met MakerBot co-founder Zach Hoeken who now is program director for the HAXLR8R.  It's an exciting hardware startup accelerator which gives each team $25,000 and sends them to Shenzen, China, for 4 months to develop their product.  I had the good fortune to attend their demo day in SF: photos and videos


He told me he thinks the BeagleBone Black is the future of 3D Printers since it has integrated programmable real-time units (PRU) which can precisley control stepper motor without the need of an external microcontroller.  I gave him one to take back to the HAXLR8R lab in Shenzen, and hope to see future HAXLR8R teams designing 3D printers or CNC devices around the BeagleBone Black.


At the Make: Hardware Innovation Workshop Innovation Showcase, I was very impressed by OtherFab's OtherMill: a CNC mill that makes it easy to create your own circuit boards quickly:



It allows for some pretty novel designs, too:


Brook Drumm, founder Printrbot, showed the new Simple which will be $299 and released this summer:

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He also said they are developing a stereolithography printer which will use the Raspberry Pi to provide a web interface.





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