I recently took on the challenge of designing a larger-scale level printer that could be used for high-speed production work. It was heavily inspired by the E3D Tool Changer, but with some notable differences (see below). Why inspired? I thought it would be a smart move to use the knowledge of a team of engineers with over a year of beta testing a system, after all I'm only mortal.
The most effective thing you can do with this build at the moment is to watch the project, perhaps comment? There will be changes, and I know that in its current state it isn't very easy to consider building. BUT SOON.
I want to emphasize that the design of this printer is not finished. As is, it is entirely functional (in theory). In the next couple weeks, I will be creating the first prototype and will almost certainly find efficiencies that can be made. I also already have some ideas for things I want to change to make it even more accessible, read the to-do list to see a full list of things I want to add to the design. Comment if there is anything you may also want to see!
APIS is a CoreXY style FDM printer which can incorporate the tool changing mechanic as developed by E3D. Currently, it has a build size of roughly 400mm x 300mm x 340mm.
Goals of APIS
- Designing an open-source, CoreXY style printer which can be used in production settings. the E3D Toolchanger and BLV Cube are two which this most closely resembles. The Railcore II and HEVO are two other open-source CoreXY printers which are worth mentioning as well.
- Creating a highly functional, yet thoughtfully designed printer. In my opinion, almost all Reprap style printers don't have aesthetics taken into consideration. These appeal to engineers and makers more than anyone else. This isn't a problem, but I wanted to see what I could do to improve the user experience.
- In the future I would like to expand this project to make it as modular as possible, but it has to begin somewhere.
- Finish standardizing components
- Create variation which uses 6mm belts in XY
- Create variation which uses 2020 series extrusion instead of 4040.
- Make it parametric based on what size of bed you want to use/how many tools you want to have.
- Experiment with using motor stalling to determine homing positioning vs using endstops (which I need to still incorporate into the design)
- Design new tool changer which uses easily accessible stepper motors.
- Develop scripts for tool changing.
I don't have access to the precision machining that E3D has. Likely, you also don't. So while I appreciate the sheer engineering that E3D has put into this printer, I think they forgot to keep things simple.
I simplified and standardized everything that I thought could be simpler. For example, the XY Belt Tensioner was reduced from:
- 2 milled parts, 2 lathed parts, 2 set screws, and 3 M3 bolts
- to 1 milled part, 3 washers, 2 M4 bolts, and 1 M5 bolt.
Currently, it is 100% compatible with the E3D ToolChanger system tools, and I don't intend to change that. However, I would like to review their design and find efficiencies that would allow us civilians to produce the tools with less trouble.