Nov 12, 2015 | By Alec
We come across a lot of open source initiatives within the 3D printing community, but many unfortunately get side-tracked or get stuck at some point or another, so we’re always happy to see projects becoming a success. And that is definitely a word we could have used to describe the TwinTeeth multi-purpose PCB manufacturing machine, which was released at the beginning of 2015 by the two Spanish brothers behind open source developers Diyouware. While the multi-headed making machine was already very impressive at the time, they are now back for more with the metalized version of their multi-tool: the TwinTeeth Plus.
The new metal version: the TwinTeeth Plus.
For those of you who’ve never heard of Diyouware (do-it-yourself-ware), it’s an interesting blog about robotics, mechatronics and software development. Staying true to the spirit of open-source design, they usually share all designs and files for their interesting hardware constructions for free. Aside from their TwinTeeth, we were also very impressed by their PCB printer with a Blu-Ray pickup which can be used to print circuit boards.
But few open source machines have impressed us more than the TwinTeeth, a PCB mini-factory that is part RepRap 3D printer, part laser engraver, part CNC miller and much more. To refresh your memory, this multi-purpose 3D printer is in part so fascinating because it moves its construction bed, rather than the tool head around in a sort of reverse Delta printer way. ‘Fixing the tool on the top of the robot has other benefits: we can interchange it [with other tool heads] very easily because it is not attached to any moveable part. Also because the robot doesn’t have to move wirings, filaments, heavy loads, cable chains, etc.,’ the brothers explained at the time.
This makes it quite easy to change tool heads around, putting just about every fabrication stage in the process of PCB building and general making at your disposal. Its simply a matter of interchanging the various heads which, the brothers assure us, is very easy to do. In fact, it includes the following functions:
- UV Laser photoengraving on sensitive film or pre-sensitized boards using an ultraviolet laser.
- Drilling vias and holes using any mini-rotary tool like Dremel® or Proxxon®.
- Dispensing solder paste with precision on SMD PCB pads.
- Plotting circuits with a permanent pen-maker (if you prefer this method).
- 3D printing knobs, casings, front-panels, even print circuits with conductive filament, or make circuits supports.
- Milling/Carving soft materials or etching PCB copper with a v-bit (if you prefer this etching method)
The machine itself runs on the commonly used combination of Arduino™ Mega + RAMPS 1.4 + A4988 Motor Drivers. It uses a custom-made software package as well, including the TwinTeeth Firmware which supports the various tools, including the 3D printer, as well as an supposedly very easy to use console especially designed for a multi-tool system with a lot of functions (see their blog post for the full list). They’ve also included Eagle Cadsoft, a freeware version for non-commercial CAD design. The machinefurther supports G-Code, postscript, BMP files and common slicing software such as Slic3r.
The initial Twinteeth, with interchangable toolheads in front.
So what does the Plus version add to this impressive picture? Well, it’s essentially a redesigned, metal version of the original that features a few improvements. ‘We re-designed the framework using Mecaduino: a construction system based on 15x15mm aluminium extrusions which allow interconnecting multitude of accessories with an incredible versatility,’ the brothers tell us.
Whereas the previous model contained many metal parts, aluminum is used in abundance on the Plus. ‘[The] big vertex plastic parts have been replaced by 3mm aluminium sheet triangles. These sheets are CNC milled with precision and are ready to use. They include all the drills, countersunk holes, the hexagonal pocket and sockets for the end-stops micro-switches,’ they explain. Aluminum columns have also been added to add more robustness, alongside new 6mm stainless steel rods and a series of new robust legs. A Lead-screw system also provides the machine with more precision and accuracy, eliminating the danger of unevenness.
Importantly, the Plus’s toolhead system is also simplified, making it much easier to install different open source toolheads that suit your needs. ‘We also included a new border on the hexagons which helps to seat them on the top triangle. With these modifications is easier and quick to interchange the various ToolHeads supported.
In short, the TwinTeeth Plus is an improved, sturdier and better looking version of the original and well worth checking out. Like its predecessor, it is also fully open-source – both the hardware and the software. The brothers invite everyone to copy, modify and share their designs under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. If you’re looking for a more capable alternative to many RepRap builds out there, head over to the diyouware for all the blue-prints, bill of materials and source files.
Posted in 3D Printer
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