Charles Edward Pax

Open Source 3D printing research and design

MakerBot Conveyor Belt

with 28 comments

As previously mentioned, Kapton is a candidate material for a conveyor belt build platform. I did a small test with a Kapton belt and heated build platform. The results are promising.

The image below shows the mechanism I’m using for testing. Two steel shafts are held apart by an acetal structure. Acetal is used directly rather than acetal bushings in wood. The platform snaps directly to the CupCake y-stage like the regular build platform. A kapton belt made from Kapton tape is looped around the shafts. Two Kapton layers were placed together with the sticky sides facing each other. The design files are available in subversion.

I would appreciate any ideas from the community in the comments below.

EDIT 2010-03-17-0626: So far I’ve only tested with what you see in the video, a mall thin ABS exrusion. The kapton does not seem to expand when heated. It’s also not very elastic, so I’m considering adding tension springs to hold down the tension bar. Right now the bar is just screwed down to keep the belt flat. I’ll plan on testing with a belt made from wide kapton film rather than a bunch of tape. I’ll also be testing to see how large of an object can be printed with this method.

EDIT 2010-03-17-1435: The springs I have in mind would sit between the tensioning rod and the screws that push the rod down. I’d want this so a fairly constant force is exerted on the belt if it were to expand when heated. Below is a side-view drawing of the conveyor mechanism.

About these ads

Written by Charles Edward Pax

2010.03.17 at 02:08

Posted in makerbot

28 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Looks very nice, are you having any problems with thermal expansion of the kapton causing buckling? How are you keeping the belt flat? I’d be very interested if this can survive the warping forces of larger, thicker objects, have you tested any yet?

    james glanville

    2010.03.17 at 03:27

  2. It does look nice, but I have to wonder about the idea of springs, unless they’re very strong. I’d think you would want the kapton under as much tension as it can reasonably stand to keep it flat under warping (since there’s nothing holding it down. Or to try and combine this with some kind of vacuum-frame thing…


    2010.03.17 at 09:45

  3. I’ve posted additional information in response to your feedback. Thanks.

    Any ideas on how I can motorize this thing?

    Charles Edward Pax

    2010.03.17 at 13:43

    • Replace the tension bar with a silicone covered friction belt driver. Look at how makerbot drives the toothed belt and drive it in a similar fashion with a friction drive.

      Lawrence Kincheloe

      2010.03.17 at 14:08

      • Would you link to an example of the silicone covered friction belt driver you mention?

        Do you mean to have the tension bar replaced by a roller that would drive the Kapton belt?

        I’m not sure what you mean by “friction drive.” It’s my understanding that the belts are driven by toothed timing pulleys.

        Charles Edward Pax

        2010.03.17 at 14:22

        • It’s similar to how printers move paper around with silicone rubber rollers. A belt dive is used to give indexed positioning, however because it isn’t necessary to know the precise placement of the belt as long as it doesn’t run into the completed print, you can use a pulley system that uses friction between a motor driven roller and the kapton belt. This has the advantage of being easy to build and interface with the kapton belt.

          Yes I do mean to have the tension bar replaced with a silicone covered rod that acts in a similar fashion of providing tension while also driving the kapton belt. The reason this works is because when you kink the belt for tensioning, your also providing the perfect conditions to increase the surface area for a friction drive silicone rubber belt drive. Thus, you can combine both the tension device and the drive device into the same structure.

          I hope this clarifies and helps.

          Lawrence Kincheloe

          2010.03.18 at 11:11

  4. How about cutting holes on the edges like in film or even using strips of film with holes taped on edges and using sprockets for movement?


    2010.03.17 at 16:49

    • That reminds me of the paper used in dot matrix printers. That sounds like a good way to guarantee the Kapton belt moves. It might otherwise slide over the two shafts. I’ll test without sprockets first and see if that’s good enough. Since Kapton is laserable, making sprcket holes in a sheet would be fairly trivial.

      Charles Edward Pax

      2010.03.18 at 06:38

  5. What about doing away with the y axis and driving the belt directly for the y axis. You’d reduce part count.


    2010.03.17 at 17:51

    • You need 2x the size of flat platform in the Y direction to make that work. Keeping that flat and rigid might require some serious reconstruction.


      2010.03.17 at 20:28

    • That’s an idea I was considering until the bowden extruder became a real option. With a bowden style extruder the print head(s) would have little enough mass such that it would be easier to move than the build platform. In a future MakerBot version the build platform will likely only move along the z-axis.

      An advantage of moving the build platform in only the z-axis is that the printed object wouldn’t wobble around during printing.

      Charles Edward Pax

      2010.03.18 at 06:44

  6. What temperature do you print at when printing on to kapton like this?


    2010.03.18 at 02:29

    • Nozzle tempreature of 220C. This test is the only time I’ve printed with a heated platform, which I pretty warm, but cool enough to touch. I’ll get the platform working properly and do more testing this weekend if I scrape enough time together.

      Charles Edward Pax

      2010.03.18 at 06:34

  7. Nice work, very impressive and a step in the right direction.

    Probably best way to motivate your conveyor could be to make the conveyor with standard timing belts down each edge. (Just wider than you build platfor so that the Kapton stays flat) Then add timing gear pulleys to the ends of your rollers (cut the flanges off or get them flanged only on the out side edge.) Add a motor assembly to one of your roller/pulley assemblys.

    Do away with the axis drive in the direction your conveyors goes and drive your conveyor motor with this output.

    A conveyor bed is definitely the way to go.


    2010.03.18 at 04:27

  8. Thanks. It’s just one of many steps by many others. It certainly will help achieve one requirement in the $80,000 Personal Manufacturing Prize (

    “The capacity to print a full set of parts for a complete replica of itself within 7 days, including the time for reloading, and clearing of printer head jams.”

    It will be great to queue up print jobs and leave the printer to its business.

    I’ll look into finding a timing bealt that is wide, thin, and flexible enough for what you’re describing.

    Charles Edward Pax

    2010.03.18 at 07:06

  9. [...] I develop the conveyor belt build platform I will surely use the sanding method. The heated build platform is worth every [...]

  10. [...] Pax of NYC Resistor is working on a neat project, a heated conveyor belt allowing you to print multiple objects without having to manually remove each output — the [...]

  11. [...] Pax of NYC Resistor is working on a neat project, a heated conveyor belt allowing you to print multiple objects without having to manually remove each output — the [...]

  12. [...] Pax of NYC Resistor is working on a neat project, a heated conveyor belt allowing you to print multiple objects without having to manually remove each output — the [...]

  13. [...] Conveyor belt for continues printing (very experimental) [...]

  14. I’ve picked up working on Charles’ excellent design and greatly simplified the concept. Charles would love to chat with you. Getting hung up on the Kapton warping. I think you already nailed this one with keeping under tension.


    2010.08.25 at 11:02

  15. [...] my previous posts to see how the project developed into its current [...]

  16. Pictures printed on ZINK paper are smudge-proof,
    water-resistant and dry-to-touch as soon as they come out.

    If the wedding is given by your mother, and your father is
    deceased,. There are Photo Album templates
    already built-in to the software; but the procedures indicated above seem
    a bit easier – plus you don’t have to conform to pre-exisiting template page layouts.


    2013.12.16 at 13:38

  17. Even though understanding who can benefit from using an air purifier, you may also be wondering exactly how they work.
    Anyway, these cleaners work by trapping the allergens and particles, so
    that clean air can return to the area where
    it is being used. It contains some robust pre-filter that makes purifying extra

    2013.12.17 at 11:19

  18. The concentric arrangement of evergreen leaves is associated with
    the onset of Advent. There are many eye-catching creative decoration materials are
    obtainable within the store. Some of the bestselling items are generally stockings, Christmas baseballs, figurines, snow globes perhaps even toys.


    2013.12.19 at 11:00

  19. A stationary blender gives you a variety of soups, puree’, sauces, and
    in many cases make some baby food and batter, up to chopping ice for mixed
    drinks. There will also be two containers, a tall one along with a narrow one, which is to be used for mixing vegetables
    or fruit ad different liquids. Mini blenders are milkshake makers,
    smoothie makers and private blenders or perhaps a mini hand blender.


    2014.05.07 at 04:11

  20. I’ve always used a pair of regular oven mitts or a dish towel to remove the
    hot baked items from my oven. This article is not about saving tons
    of money on electrical energy or about transforming normal everyday boring food
    into gourmet gastronomical delights, it is more about dehydrating food with the inexhaustible energy source of
    the sun while using a solar sun oven. If it is not, remove the large flat stone and build up your oven walls some
    more and try again.


    2014.05.24 at 12:39

  21. And so, when somebody identifies a G Shock Frogman, it would imply various timepieces from various time periods.
    Physical obstructions such as mountains, buildings interfere with the broadcast;
    people living in coastal regions are affected the indignity of setting time manually.
    For women, a small and beautifully designed
    Casio or Timex dress watch, with just a suggestion of pastel colour on the face, is the right solution for virtually any formal ensemble.


    2014.06.22 at 16:34

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: