A new belt 3D printer design is available from an open source project.
“TigTag3D” is the name of the project. Their machine is a belt 3D printer design, which provides two key capabilities not available on “normal” 3D printers: belt 3D printers can produce very long parts, far longer than the size of the machine itself; alternatively, a belt 3D printer can continuously produce objects serially, as they just roll off the belt while more objects are being printed.
The belt concept was first proposed many years ago by a modification to the original MakerBot CupCake device, then later commercialized by Blackbelt. Since then there have been a couple of commercial options emerge, including White Knight, iFactory, Robot Factory, and most notably Creality’s CR-30 3DPrintMill.
As for open source belt 3D printer options, there has been only one of note until now, the White Knight, which has posted the design files on Thingiverse.
[UPDATE] It’s been brought to our attention by reader Len there is one more open source belt 3D printer project, “EnderLoop“, based on the Ender 3 platform. All information for that project is posted on Thingiverse. There is also another private group on Facebook, “The 45th Degree & ENDER BENDER Belt Printer Upgrade” attempting something similar for the Ender 3.
The new project, TigTak3D, offers GitHub-hosted design files downloadable by anyone interested in attempting a build. The current model is the UE3.
Is it only a concept? Not quite, there is evidence that it is being built, too:
While the project is open source, it is a bit rough around the edges. There are a pile of STL 3D model files on their GitHub page, there is no open source license specified. Even more perplexing is that there is no readme files to explain anything. There is also no bill of materials to indicate what non-printed components might be required.
A tweet from their account suggests that it is their “first time on GitHub”, having moved from Thingiverse.
There are several videos of the UE3 design in progress, here is the most recent edition:
Curiously, among the videos on their YouTube channel showing progress on the design is a promotional video for Zhuhai CTC Electronics Co. Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer of 3D printers for over ten years. This company produces a variety of equipment, ranging from inexpensive desktop units to industrial-sized options. I take it from this coincidence that the founders of this open source project might be somehow related to Zhuhai CTC Electronics.
In examining the UE3 design, it appears to be a feasible concept, albeit possibly a bit overbuilt. That’s actually a good thing, as it could make the motion system more stable and accurate.
There’s not much more known about the design, as it appears you’ll have to fill in the blanks for electronics, power and software to drive the machine.
One important omission is information about the main belt. This essential component should be sufficiently robust to withstand heat, cooling, repeated extrusions and other abuse. Someone building the UE3 would certainly benefit from having some advice about the nature of the belt and possible sources for purchase.
While this project might not be completely executable at this point, you should know that TigTag3D is very early, having posted their files only weeks ago. I suspect they could greatly benefit from additional contributors who could bring expertise and effort to the project.
I am also very interested to see another open source belt 3D printer project, as it might help drive the technology further forward. My opinion is that belt 3D printers should eventually become a standard, but they aren’t there yet. Open source experiments might lead the way there.
If you’re interested in belt 3D printers, this is a project you should follow.
Via TigTag3D GitHub