Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

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Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby calexander » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:07 am

Check out the Zen Toolworks CNC 3D Printer Conversion Kit

If you have been around the CNC world, then you might have heard about one of the fastest growing concepts around - 3D Printing. While the technology and "printers" have been out for a while, they have never been available to the average Joe like you and me. The retail price on one of these bad boys has been anything between $8,000.00 to $200,000.00. You can forget all about buying little Johnny one of these for his Birthday! But since 2003, talk turned tables and a grass-roots initiative was made by the world wide web of hobbyists to make this technology available to the masses.

So Zen Toolworks is diving in! As our first initiative it seems sensible that we leverage the existing kits. We've taken care of the basic construct using our Zen 7x7 CNC 3-Axis DIY Carving Machine and now offering a simple conversion kit that extends the necessary framework so you can mount one of many available 3D print heads and begin extruding your next 3D model.

Image

To get started with the conversion kit, head over to the ZTW Store or our store-front on Amazon where we are offering this new kit for UNDER $100.00!.

Available at both Zen Store-fronts:

Zen Toolworks CNC 3D Printer Conversion Kit @ ZTW

Zen Toolworks CNC 3D Printer Conversion Kit @ Amazon

Educational note - the print head hardware and functionality for 3D printing are on the bleeding edge of development as we speak (err.. read.. type..) and Zen Toolworks is right there feverishly working on a custom design to build and offer as part of the Zen Brand! So, the year 2011 will certainly be an exciting one as we plunge into this undeveloped field of technical fun and excitement!

As always, we look forward to your feedback to all that Zen Toolworks has to offer. After all, your feedback determines our direction for future modification and development!!

Until next time -- Happy CNC'ing!
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby canyon » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:11 am

Any way to buy this directly with a 7x7 machine and omit the 2in head altogether? My friend and I need the 3d printing capability for a senior project! I sent Xin an email but I didn't know that this was released today, fantastic timing I might add.

Also I want to thank you guys for providing what seriously looks like the most affordable CNC for broke students and a fantastic one at that!
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby calexander » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:24 am

Sorry, Canyon. That configuration is not available - at least, not yet. For now you must have the 7x7 CNC DIY kit and then purchase the conversion.
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby canyon » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:48 am

Sorry for the added question but do you plan to add this configuration soon? It'd be nice not to have to pay for components we won't use but if we have to then we'll just deal with it :D

Thanks for the quick reply!
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby calexander » Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:16 am

No plans as of yet, but that does not mean we won't set up the package soon. The bottom line is there is no promises on future releases, we can just let folks know that we're "looking" at the option.

Besides, while you may not use the original framework right away, you may find that you are glad to have them stored locally because you can convert back to the CNC-mode which you may want or need to do in the future.
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby canyon » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:54 am

I didn't know the 3d Printer Conversion head would eliminate cutting capabilities. It's not possible to add a spindle and use the machine to cut parts with 5 inch depth?

From the description it seems like this kit increases CNC capabilities enormously, adding space for a rotary axis.

"This kit can also been used if you want to add a 4th axis to your CNC project. The clearance under the gantry will allow you to put a rotary axis and tail stock under the cutter."
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby JMSiefer » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:17 pm

My family just purchased the 7x7 kit and stepper driver board for me as a gift. I'm supposed to get it in a few days here, and I'm really excited. I just have a couple questions though.

1) When I purchase the 3D printing kit (as I'm sure it will happen), and I get an extruder head (which I guess would be from the Makerbot store- unless anyone has a different suggestion as to where I could get one), I just want to make sure that the stepper board can SUPPORT 3D printing. What I mean to say is, does the board from the Zen store have a command to tell the extruder to turn off and on, so that it can feed the plastic? Or would I need to buy a different board for this with this added capability? I'm looking at maybe making a laser cutter down the road as well, in which case, I would have the same issue of turning the laser on and off.

2) Does Mach 3 support 3D printing? If so, how would I go about setting it up? Or what software do you guys suggest that I use?

3) Can I communicate with the stepper board using a USB to a Parallel Port adapter? Something like this: http://www.buy.com/prod/usb-to-printer- ... 71859.html

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby roller » Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:19 am

When I bought my Zen 7x7 I was tossing up between a CNC Mill and a 3D Printer and this new add-on is an intriguing idea. I will share what I have learnt so far and hopefully someone else will chime in if I have anything wrong. First to your questions:

1) You really need additional controls for the extruder. This is because a the extruder typically needs temperature control and feedrate control - not just an spindle on/off control that is included in some motor driver boards (the Zen driver board I have does not even have this on/off but there was a suggestion on another topic of a newer board that may have spindle control again but I am there is not just some confusion). Anyway so the short answer is you really need somthing more like a 4D driver board, a 3D printer driver board (that you swap in) or a secondary controller board via USB and serial to just control the extruder and use you Zen driver board for the X,Y and Z.

Still with me ...?

2) The official answer is no ... the real answer is it might be possible with a few hacks and using a secondary USB or serial controller.

3) Generally this is not recommended as these devices do not do a good job of providing a good continuous flow of information for the driver board. There are specially designed USB to parallel adapters which will work with Mach3 and these are the only ones you can trust to work. Generally a PCI parallel port is a better option or an old refurb PC which can be just as cheap.

The real issue with 3D printing is going to be the speed of the Zen 7x7. With the common default settings our 7x7 can feed reliably at about 300mm/min but 3D printers like the makerbot do 3000mm/min - ten times faster! The new ultimaker manages reliable printing up to 300mm/min (claimed) - 60 times faster!!

The issues with this speed difference is not just the extra wait for prints but also the issues with the flow and hardening rate between layers which can affect the strenght, structure and shape of your final model.

To start to get your head around the conversion possibilities and issues check out these pages which are some ideas of working through the issues we face in a conversion:

EMC RapRap Wiki Page:
http://objects.reprap.org/wiki/EMCRepRap

Thingverse page on 3D printing with Mach3
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5233

I'll post anything else useful I find.
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby JMSiefer » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:02 pm

That all makes sense, and thank you for the reply. I was going to get back to you right when I saw your post, but time just flew past me. I apologize.

The use of a secondary USB or serial controller is intriguing. Unfortunately I have no knowledge or expertise with programming, so it would have to be a point and shoot type of deal, you know? What I mean is, my abilities would be limited to following and installing code or materials that someone else has already put together and can explain through a tutorial. Otherwise, in terms of a 4D driver board, would you happen to have any suggestions for a cheap one online that I could check out?

At the moment I'm still having difficulties with my 7x7 kit. Unfortunately I snapped a piece during assembly, so it won't be for perhaps another week that I will get it up and going to test some things. Blagh!
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Re: Now Available: 7x7 3D Printer Conversion Kit!

Postby roller » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:33 pm

I know what you mean - and the whole 3D printer thing can be complex and obtuse. Follow those posts above and hopefully it will get to the point it is almost a point and shoot configuration. The USB controllers can effectively be point and shoot coming pre-programmed. Anyway, wait and see for a bit and I am sure in the coming months you will see one of us posting details on how we are going with 3D printing on the wiki.
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