Oct 13, 2015 | By Alec

With more and more promising startups and new concepts appearing within the 3D printing community on a daily basis, it’s always good to see them become successful. Not only is it fantastic for the people involved, but it also says a lot about the health of the 3D printing community as a whole. A few months ago, we first reported on a remarkable entry in an online competition: the Mostly Printed CNC by Ryan Zellars, which can be best described as a RepRap-based CNC machine (with other functions, including 3D printing) covered with 3D printed components. Since then, the demand for Ryan’s kits has exploded. To cope with all those manufacturing requests, Ryan has now transformed the basic Mostly Printed CNC machine into a remarkable four-headed 3D printer.

Ryan Zellars is perhaps better known for his screen name Allted and is a maker from San Diego, California. A few months ago, he had his moment of fame with this very interesting RepRap-based multipurpose making machine. Since posting his designs on Thingiverse in March, he has already garnered over 100,000 views (if related builds are included) within a few months, while he also won the first prize of $5000 in the Innovation contest over at Boca Bearings this summer.

As he now explains to 3ders.org, that victory in July added a lot of momentum to his kit-selling business. ‘I started selling DIY hardware kits for the people on Thingiverse that already have a 3D printer. Somewhere along the way people either realized this is a great price for a 3D printer, not even counting its other abilities. I have been overwhelmed with orders for full kits including printed parts,’ he says. For a single machine, however, parts take over 130 hours to 3D print, so it wasn’t long before Ryan became in need of something like a 3D printing farm.

That is, essentially, what he’s built: the 4 Head. While multi-headed 3D printers are nothing new, most are very expensive. So why not use the same building principles used on the Mostly Printed CNC, but multiply them by four? ‘This still allows for a wide range of sizes, cut the conduit to any size you want just like the original. I added another ramps board to control the heat for 2 heads, use the original ramps to control the other 2 heads, and 3 extra mk8 style extruders,’ he explains.

In short, it needs very little additional parts when compared to the standard build. It does use a larger 20A power supply and an additional Arduino to control two of the hot ends, but that’s about it. A single Arduino takes care of all ten steppers on the machine. ' The X and Y axis are normally running 2 NEMA 17's in parallel, I added a second Z stepper as well. All 4 extruder steppers are running in parallel from a single driver, my plan was to run 2 drivers but I have not had a problem with it yet. I am using the DRV8825 drivers with heat sinks. This Arduino also drives all the print fans,’ he says. To 3D print, Ryan simply fires up two Repetier Host operations, connecting them to both Ramps sets. ‘One of the Repetier-Host windows is just there to set the temp and keep it constant. The other window does the slicing and the rest of the work,’ he adds.

And the result is quite remarkable. As this is meant to be a farm, all four heads run in sync, 3D printing the same part in the same quality, while only scarifying a little bit of overall speed – greatly increasing Ryan’s productivity. ‘The print quality has been great so far. I use the robox vase from Thingiverse as a spiral vase test part, it drives all 10 steppers the whole time it prints. [It’s a] torture test for this monster,’ he says about the machine’s ability. The results are excellent, though a slight layered texture is visible on the parts.

Now if this is already making your mouth water, there’s just one small bit of bad news: for now, this 4-headed version of the Mostly Printed CNC will remain unique. In part, it was made purely to increase production for kits, but in part it is also a proof of concept for what these machines can do and become. ‘I made the CNC because I wanted one, I made the 4 Head to help with production and I wasn't sure it was possible. So far so good, 2 batches of parts and 12 hours later its working great. Concept proven,’ he says. However, we would not be at all surprized if Ryan will soon be hounded for kit versions of this four-headed monster too.

 

   

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josh wrote at 9/21/2016 2:54:08 AM:

Without a patent, which you didn't even mention, you can basically wipe your xxx with anything from CC, lol.

freakqnc wrote at 3/27/2016 7:49:04 PM:

Awesome work... to bad that with such a rig one can't use the full extension to build larger parts which could be printed collaboratively by distributing the print job across those multiple print heads much like Autodesk's Project Escher. Or can this rig be modded to become a large printing one?

TheDefendant wrote at 10/14/2015 12:26:00 PM:

On which part has Ryan used is there the license mr cartesio3d? please explain

Jos Scheepers MaukCC wrote at 10/13/2015 6:38:18 PM:

It is not a unique concept as there are quite a few machines doing this. What is also not unique is that all these machinemakers do not understand that there is a CC-BY-SA-NC licence on this. We( our lawyers) will contact them if they start making money :)



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