Motorized Conveyor Belt Sneak Peek

A few hours ago I printed on an automated conveyor belt build platform. The hardware is functional, but I’m sure I’ll think of improvements over the next week. I’ll post a better video and pictures in the next few days.


UPDATE 2010-04-29 0606: Here’s a second test.

UPDATE 2010-04-30 0314: It works.

UPDATE 2010-05-01 2230: It even conveys large area prints like butterflies.

UPDATE 2010-05-02 12:22Over night print test yielded ten beautiful bottle openers. No major effect on mylar conveyor belt. Here’s the eleventh being printed.

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19 thoughts on “Motorized Conveyor Belt Sneak Peek

  1. This would be pretty incredible if it can really work as an automated factory. I’m enjoy a video of it printing a couple pulleys in sequence, but I’m weird like that.

    MakerBlock, there is no way to make this work without a heated build platform as far as I can see.

    1. I’ve been casually hunting around for the right material for the belt. Rough leather seemed to work okay. However, the heated build platform makes this all work quite nicely.

      There may still be good belt materials out there. Due to the method of object removal we can deal with a much stronger bond between the ABS and build platform.

      1. The second video is ever more exciting! I’d love to see a makerbot ustream that just churns out pulleys all day long :).

        The issues I’ve had with warping can lead to parts getting in the way of the head, possibly knocking the whole part loose (it’s pretty rough to come into the room and see your part jammed into the side of the BP). While you may be able to get a non-heatered material to work, I can’t see it being repeatable unattended unless it’s some type of dispenser where the surface peels off whole.

  2. This is most awesome, Charles!!

    Is it too early to talk about what it’ll take to upgrade a cupcake with this rig?

      1. Awesomer and awesomerer.

        Does RepG already know how to deal with this? Any extra electronics involved (stepper controller, etc) or does the conveyer plug into some existing mobo pins?

        If you can get it to print a queue of different objects, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2069 on a cupcake. At 547 different pieces, being able to print that one would definitely spell ubersuccess.

        1. I have the conveyor motor connected as if it were a cooling fan. Using M106 and M107 turns it on and off respectively.

          I’ve modified the Skeinforge start.txt. and end.txt files such that I can skein an object and simply copy and paste the output gcode into a file once for each copy I want. Just open the file, press ctlr-a, ctrl-c, and then press ctrl-v ten times for ten copies. I should also be able to concatenate a group of output gcode files into a single one. Below are the start.txt and end.txt files I use.

          (beginning of start.txt)
          M104 S220 T0 (Extruder Temperature to 220 Celsius)
          M109 S120 T0 (Heated Platform Temperature to 110 Celsius)
          M107 (fan off)
          G21 (Metric FTW)
          G90 (Absolute Positioning)
          G92 X0 Y0 Z0 (You are now at 0,0,0)
          (You have failed me for the last time, MakerBot)
          M108 S255 (Extruder speed = max)
          M6 T0 (Wait for tool to heat up)
          G0 Z0 (Go back to zero.)
          (end of start.txt)

          (begin end.txt)
          (make more!)
          G1 X0 Y45 F3300.0
          M106 (conveyor on)
          G04 P5000 (Wait)
          M107 (conveyor off)
          G1 X0.0 Y0.0 F3300.0
          G1 X0 Y0 Z0 F3300.0
          G04 P9000 (Wait)
          M18 (turn off steppers.)
          (end end.txt)

  3. out of curiosity, have you already tried PTFE tape with silicon adhesive? It has an almost cloth like texture, think duct tape, only resistant to 500F. And it isn’t horribly expensive so long as you don’t get into the 1″+ range, then you would be looking at $45+ per roll.

    1. how far off are we from seeing these for sale? what kind of price tag are we looking at? and will there be a kit available for people to modify there heated build platform 2.0 to this?

  4. Ok I heard people speaking of this at CCC when I first started to build my first reprap. It’s now 2013 I’ve got 5 repraps waiting to get this conversion. This is ideal for mass printing. Why was this idea abandoned?

    When I first heard the idea I was thinking in practice it would fail because the part would stick too hard to the tape and just tear the belt. Also how did you construct the belt 2 pieces stick together so it doesn’t stick on the inside or? What is the disadvantage of this, I mean I’ve never seen or heard of it elsewhere anymore and the youtube vids got a surprisingly low number of hits whereas this is really really what we need.

    Everybody struggles getting parts of his bed (they need to stick well enough not to warp but then after the print you spend time getting it off without damaging the tape etc…). You can print directly onto glass but that sometimes fails also and has same disadvantage of taking time to strip off the parts …. Also such a good find, that you used the fan switching gcodes for this as it’s still possible to use that solution today on any modern marlin or repetier firmware ;).

    So anyway is there any reason for me not to try this out on a modern 3d printer? It’s so hard to believe if it works reliably that nobody is doing it now…

  5. Ok on thingiverse I do see a lot of others with the abp with those old makerbots. Still, I see nobody doing it with an ultimaker, prusa i3, or any other modern 2013 era printers… Is it because when you go to 0.25 layers or 0.1 layers it becomes harder to use a conveyor belt. Just curious to why it is not standard for instance on the ultimaker 2 etc. It could have the conveyer belt system out of the box? Funny how we still have to manually hammer on parts or use a blade to cut them off when there is a working solution to automate this.

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