Print 3D

Edit:10 nov. 2019, Cre:15 févr. 2016

Lily Delta printer

Printer designed with OpenSCAD using Delta Simulator as engine.
Note that I renamed the printer from HXM to ‘Lily’

Based on my experiences on the Fisher delta and the D-Box, I designed and built early 2016 a new delta printer, the Lily (formerly HXM) which is using the Fisher delta components. It was designed to be used with the Fisher mechanical kit, but with RRP closure, it does have lost some interest as it is now. The delicate part is to find another compact hotend which could be fitted in the effector.

Its really usable space is diameter 170mm, 242mm height at center and 223 mm height at 170mm diameter. Base size is 320×370mm, with 500mm between plates. That is roughly twice the really usable volume of the Fisher and the same as a Kossel.
However, with the exact same parts, you could make another variant with 186mm diameter and a reduced height of 230mm at center and 208mm at 186mm diameter, but with a base increased to 340×380mm. This is what I now recommends.

My aim was to:

  • Having a more silent printer
  • Having a part fan controlled by the board
  • Got rid of all acrylic and fragile parts
  • Few mechanical adjustement
  • Being capable to enclose the printer later.
  • Increase the printable dimensions

Rods are used to give good dimensional accuracy

It is using the Spool on top support

Extruder installed to ease access and minimize bowden tube length (420 mm)
The extruder is the Geared extruder which was designed for the Fisher Delta, mirrored

I have designed the effector like on the D-Box, with the kinematic positioning system moved from the bed to the effector. Due to the kinematic system, globally the effector weight is increased by 15g (including 6mm balls), which is compensated by the lighter arms.
For the arms, I have not changed the winning team and they are made with M3 threaded rods, just longer as the printer is larger. This is relatively light and super strong. I was capable to lift the printer (8kg naked) by its effector. Don’t even try that with a Fisher, even if its weight is less than half that.
Please note that you can use this effector and carriages on a Fisher, without diameter loss, the height loss being compensated by the bed removal. The big advantage is that the Fisher bottom plate may be much more flat than the Fisher bed, a warped bed being very troublesome. The rod space is the Fisher 1 (42mm), different from the Fisher 2, but that could be modified.

The arms articulations are made as on the D-Box, with balls in printed cups, maintained with tensioning wires. I was initially thinking that there was no need for very high tension, so I used nylon wire instead of high grade Dyneema, and this is simpler to install and with elasticity of nylon, there is no need for springs. Tension is just made by adding knots on the wires. However, further tests showed that good tension creates friction in the ball cups which dampens vibration and have totally eliminated the banding I had initially on large diameter parts, so I increased the nylon wire size to 16kg (35 lb). It seems that on deltas, some sort of articulation dampening is required.

There is no end stops for simplicity and reliability (while they could be installed outside the box actuated by a rod screwed on carriage). I stall the motors on the top support. That makes quite a bad noise while stalling, but precision is not that bad if you use a not too low current. Enclosing the printer significantly reduced the stalling noise.

The difficulty of delta printer is accurate geometry positioning, so I use threaded rods to make the triangles. On the bottom, they shall be cut after assembly (at least one to use the maximum diameter without conflict with the fan part duct).

The assembly is faster than the Fisher, but you have to do some woodwork before (quite easy) and modify and complete the wiring (fairly tedious). Buy 2 new motor cables.

Plastic parts are printed in PETG, and so, all components have been reinforced compared to the Fisher, because the PETG stiffness is just above half of the PLA stiffness.
With the availability of PLA which could be annealed without part shrinking (by example the FormFutura Volcano), building it in annealed PLA will make it more stiff and globally better.

I have used two high quality Sunon 25×25×10 fans (5m3/h),supplied in 5V, which are extremely silent. They are not that powerful, but that seems to work. Hotend cooling does work ok with this low flow, this was the deal compared to the high flowrate of the large radial blower of the Fisher. Hotend plastic parts are more exposed to heat (insulation is done with a plumbing fiber gasket) but yet, they had no problem, while I routinely print at 270–280°C (PETG). Having a separated part cooling help a lot, while it is a bit weak and asymetric. This is not the best for PLA printing, however in an enclosed printer getting warm, being capable to cool parts at very low flow (15 to 25% of this low flow fan) proofed to be very helpful to increase the print quality with ABS and PETG. Yes, it helps (a lot) to cool ABS! but this is with an ambient temperature of 40~45°C.

This fan setup works, however you shall be very cautious while wiring them. Check and recheck polarity on the controlled fan, a mistake will burn the board (sending 19V on the 5V input cannot be nice). It is safer to use 12V fans, but it needs a DC/DC converter. That DC/DC converter is more or less required for the fumes recycling fan, anyway, so that is now what I recommend.

I simplified the already designed spool on top system, with no bearings neither any mechanical part. Its works better !
However, with experience, I think vertical axis spool holder, while more elegant than spigot supports, are less practical as they tend to create unwinding problems while the filament loops fall by gravity and tend to cross and make knots, even with a rotation brake. So, the simple spigot support, even if less aesthetic, will work better and is faster to print.
Swapping sides or extruder compared to my prototype (don’t forget to mirror the extruder) may allow to install spool on the printer left side instead of the shelf bracket on top. As there is no frequent need to access this side (electronic), this is not a problem.

I improved a bit the already designed geared extruder, with stiffer bearing holders. As I already experienced on the Fisher, a good position of the extruder is fairly difficult to establish. I tested 6 positions before settling on the final one. But while the printed volume is higher, this allow to use the original Bowden tube of the Fisher (I have to lengthen mine, which was reduced with my spool on top installation, but this extra-length is the original cutted part…). As the stepper is inside the enclosure, you shall limit the extruder stepper current, typically the highest in a printer, so a geared extruder is imperative. using the standard Fisher steppers, I set the extruder stepper current to 1A (was 1.2A+ when direct drive).

There was over time, two revamping, the first was to enclose the initial version, then I added a heat bed in 12V, with a second power supply, both power supplies being now installed in an added socle. Both modifications added a lot of weight and it is now fairly heavy for a printer that size.

Does it work ?
With increased tensioning in wires, I don’t see significant differences either in speed or quality with the Fisher.
As for the noise, there is a huge improvement, which was one of my main purpose. Indeed, even in its first open version, it was a bit less noisy than the enclosed D-Box.

Being relatively small, the internal temperature stabilise reasonably quickly (in approximately half an hour) without any control system. Now it is equipped with a bed heater and at maximum bed temperature, internal temperature stabilised at around 45°C, which is ok for the steppers (which are inside the enclosure). With steppers inside and parts in PETG, you shall not exceed 50°C as PETG proofed to be a lot less temperature resistant than ABS.
I preheat and make a very rough enclosure temperature control with an halogen bulb (50W), so if temperature got too high, I just shutdown the light (I should have added LED as a lighting backup but yet this is not done).
This relatively low thermal inertia and thermal equilibrium make it more practical than my larger D Box which tend to internally overheat with time.
This, added to lower noise, make it my preferred printer for parts which can fit in the volume, even if it is slower than the D-Box due to the lower flowrate of its small hotend.
The heated bed and a flat glass bed have improved a lot the ease of operation as now the first layer thickness is constant and repeatable and there is no longer any first layer adhesion problems with PLA or PETG. I no longer check first layer deposit, just computer start and that’s it! Just check after ten/fifteen minutes if everything ok.

One solution to increase throughput might be to revamp it with a new hotend AIO Evo, but that request a very delicate redesign of the part cooling duct, while the super compact heat block of the AIO EVO allow for a much better part cooling duct design, at some weight cost.

What are the drawbacks and compromises ?
- There is a bit more than twice the weight in plastic compared to the Fisher (total ~350 g), which translate in a bit less than twice the printing time (parts are globally more simple). They are printable on the Fisher, however I printed them on the D-Box, which is faster in PETG because of its hotend and controlled cooling, mostly with 0.3mm layers.
Total printing time ~16h on the D-box, maybe 20h on the Fisher.

- The initial fixation of the hotend on its support was improved and better cooling flow reduced the bottom hotend temperature to around 52°C with hotend temperature at 280°C. Screw temperature is approximately 10°C below low fin temperature, so this is quite acceptable for PETG support.

- For weight and dimensions reasons, I have not used magnets to maintain the hotend like on the D-Box, instead I used rubber bands cuts in bike tire tubes. This is less practical to install, but I find a reasonably easy way to do it. So, in case of mechanical trouble, that is not the hotend which is ejected, but the arms which pops out (I tested involuntarily during commissioning…). The rubber tend to age and I had to replace the rubber bands once. This is the only maintenance, aside rod oiling, that I had to do over time. I never had any nylon wire break (that will ruin the print and can be dangerous).

- You have to order a few stuff (2 fans, a diode, cables and connectors, some M3 screws, a larger buildtak, 25cm of bowden tube for filament inlet, a DC/DC converter) and buy parts in DIY stores (wood, to be cut by the store for accuracy, M4 bolts and nuts, wood screws, M5 rods, M3 rods, rubber supports, nylon wire, aluminium sheet for board shielding, windows seals), for a total which may not exceed 80 euros for an enclosed printer.

- Alas, like on the Fisher, you will not escape to do some manual calibration as the offset on the calibration points is not constant, because on the center, you are using 3 belts and near columns, mainly one belt is used, so the offset is larger on the periphery (this is in reverse of the Fisher, where offset is larger at center due to spring loads). But with recent version of DC42 fork, it is a bit easier to do, but a procedure have to be written.

- The effector plug installation is really messy. On the D-box, I wired directly to the board and find it much more simple, with minimal drawback as the route is direct and so wire replacement easy. The best installation may be to use a sleeve instead of zip-ties to group independent cables.
Ah, and printing on melaminated chip board did not work, even with glue. So I installed a ‘BuildTak’ surface, efficient but quite fragile.

OpenSCAD program, STL files, assembly manual, configuration files are available at :

- Tim Jacobsen, for the rods in printed cups with wire tensioning system.
- RepRapPro company, for the idea of kinematic positioning system used as a sensor, but here I set it on the effector instead of the bed.

(c) Pierre ROUZEAU
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