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NanoBlock - a super small fully featured extruder

by chopmeister Oct 12, 2013
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Do your prints show "ringing" due to increased head weight? Any pic of printed parts?

I have some printed parts, I will try to find time post a pic later today. I am currently assembling what I hope to be the final prototype, but I'm waiting for new electronics for my UM (I had a small accident with it recently :D), it should arrive next week.

I have some small ringing due to belt resonance because my belts are very stretched out and worn. I don't believe the weight of the extruder has anything to do with it, though. But I'm trying to completely rebuild my printer now to eliminate all other factors which could impede quality. A chain is as strong as the weakest link after all.

I've completely redesigned the body, so it is more rigid, and even smaller(the footprint is 45x45mm), but the lock/unlock lever had to go away unfortunately. However, now the tension adjustment works much better, and everything is more streamlined. I'm sorry for the long wait, but hopefully it will soon be over. :)

any news for the others parts ?

I am still waiting for my custom drive bolts to be machined, so I can test the final prototype. But I believe that is the last missing part of the puzzle. The current prototype is happily printing (there will be a video soon) with a drive gear from ebay, but that is not the final solution as it introduces a lot of design changes which are not optimal, and it makes the whole thing bigger and more difficult to assemble. But at least I now know for sure the concept works. Rest assured, although I may not be writing about it, I'm putting a few hours of work every single day on this thing. :)

I will publish a detailed post about it all on my blog in a few days. Thanks a lot for the interest.

I've tried that already. The motor is too weak, heats up too much and fails under pressure. And that's with PLA, let alone ABS or nylon. This nema11 model is almost 7 and that nema8 is 4. - mutliply that with the reduction and its 140 vs 80 That's quite less. And the nema8 i used were stronger than that (don't know which exactly anymore) and not that much lighter anyway.

It's strange. Most direct drive extruders use nema17 with about
40-50N/cm. With 1:20 reductor we get the same torque with motor 2N/cm -
weakest nema8.Ok reductor eats some power. Modelcraft sells 1:30, 1:40
even 1:60 worm gears.
The limit here is max rotation speed of the stepper. For nema17 at 12v is't about 300rev/min.

What you say about the torque is true however, my tests have shown that the nema 8 is unreliable, but that doesn't mean I won't do more tests, I just need to get my hands on some different nema 8 motors than I currently have. On the other hand I have the 1:30 and 1:40 worm gears also, and with that, the thing gets really slow. Also those gears are much bigger so the whole extruder becomes larger which is not the point here :)

The 1:20 seems the optimal choice of size and weight vs power.

What exactly nema11 motor do you use? Torque? Built-in gears or printed?

The current motor is 11HS12-0674S from "omc-stepperonline", its rated torque is 6.8 The 20:1 reduction is via a worm gear system, brass worm gear and steel worm. A NEMA11 with integrated gearbox is around 40 grams heavier than this whole extruder, and unlike those, this has virtually no backlash when properly adjusted. The gears I am currently using are Modelcraft module 0.75 gears, but they are messy because the worm comes with a 4mm bore instead of the necessary 5mm, and requires some lathe processing to work. I am also looking to change the motor to something with a dual shaft, to facilitate easy manual extrusion. All in all, the BOM is still being worked on, I am trying to find the optimal components before I publish everything, but it's really hard to do since nothing I need is available here in Croatia, and I have to wait weeks for every part. :(
So sorry if it takes a while to finish, but I'm doing my best. :)

What is max speed extruding in the air?

I can drive the motor by itself more than 1500mm/min in pronterface, and I've managed air extrusion up to 400mm/min (6.66 mm/s of raw filament) at times, but most of the time the drive gear (which I ordered from ebay hoping it would be good, but instead turned out to be a piece of c$#p) starts slipping around 300mm/min. I am currently trying to get a better drive gear, this thing has too few teeth for it's diameter and looses grip easily.

For 3mm filament 300mm/min is good perfomance. I think you can print at 100mm/s 0.3 layer.
What hotend and nozzle?

It's the E3d hotend. 0.4 nozzle.

It really does look like a nice design, well done! Almost makes me wish I had a home-brew printer to try it on :)

Wow, this looks nice chopmeister, how long have you operated this extruder?
Can you share your operational/reliability experience when compared with a normal ultimaker?

Well, for starters, I have yet to see any strings or blobs. There are literally none. I have also never managed to strip the filament or see it slip. The lack of bowden tube friction is a big deal in this though. I have never used a non-bowden extruder before so I don't really know how well they usually work but this has been a game changer for me. I use a small amount of retraction, about 0.8mm, which works, and is really fast. You don't even feel it when printing. This particular prototype is only 2 days old, but I have successfully used older versions for hours of printing without a single failed print caused by the extruder itself. This particular extruder is printed on a previous version of itself, and that has been happening for a few iterations now. :) That being said, I print with PLA, I have yet to try ABS and nylon but from what I've seen so far I am confident it will work as planned.

It's really tough, despite being so small, and it's very user friendly. It's too soon to speak of actual reliability, but I'll see and report how it performs.

That being said, my Ultimaker is all torn up from constant part changing and up/downgrading. I have to install new belts and bearings and lost of other things... Currently the printer can't produce prints of exceptional quality no matter the extruder. So I have to fix that first before real stress and quality testing can be done. But I have a lot of faith in this, so stay tuned, and thanks for the interest! :)

Thanks will be following your progress closelly.