DeltaTrix 3D Printer - Open Source and Fully Hackable
Capable and novel delta 3D printer. Designed to be simple in construction, yet effective in functionality.
The DeltaTrix 3D Printer is a serious Additive Manufacturing tool, based on a linear delta robot platform. It is a departure from previous generations of 3D delta printers, which were based on linear rods or aluminium extrusions. Rods are liable to flex and aluminium extrusions make any machine look like it belongs in a factory. Robust and well designed, the DeltaTrix 3D Printer delivers a new level of sophistication and quality.
We do not believe in short cuts when it comes to our designs. Being experienced in machine design, we know there is no substitute for quality components and sound engineering practice. On our machine there are no "DIY" bearings with unknown life expectancy, but proper items which have been developed and manafactured for their purpose. Although a cheaper option might seem to make sense in the short term, it often ends up being a more expensive option in the long run!
We would like to thank all of our backers and supporters. We have learned a lot during our first Kickstarter campaign, not least due to the numerous comments from many individuals. We will be back shortly, when we will be presenting an even better product from the very start. Again, many thanks to everyone and see you again soon!
Note: Kickstarter does not allow the use of photorealistic product renderings. This is the reason why we use standard CAD renderings, easily recognized as all of these have a blue/green background.
About the DeltaTrix 3D Printer
The design of the DeltaTrix 3D Printer is published on Instructables as an Open Source project. The currently published version should provide sufficient information to recreate one of our prototype machines. If you are eager to get your hands on a printer and you have the right skills/ tools, head over to Instructables now and get busy! Alternatively, choose a kit or panel set from one of the Rewards in this Kickstarter and assemble the production version of our printer. Not confident assembling a kit? After shipping all of the Kickstarter rewards, we are aiming to provide kits and complete machines from our webstore (currently under construction, to go live after fulfilling the Kickstarter pledges).
The theoretical printing area is 280mm (11 inch) in diameter. As a square this works out as (almost) 200x200mm (8"x8"), which suits the used 'MK2A' heated bed. As it is also useful to be able to remove items, the gap between the uprights is just over 295mm. The maximum build height is around 280mm (11").
- Linear delta robot layout provides a mechanically simple motion platform for moving the print head only, not the workpiece. This allows for very fast printing speeds.
- Pre-assembled uprights in combination with a self-aligning frame design, allow for a very easy frame assembly.
- Off the shelf RAMPS electronics allow for easy replacement in case things go wrong. Update: the kit reward will now include higher spec RUMBA electronics. These are similar to the earlier RAMPS, but include support for up to three extruders. Just making sure you are able to upgrade at a later date!
- Using an LCD display and a 4GB SD memory card (supplied in our kits), the DeltaTrix 3D Printer can operate on it's own. It does not need to be attached to a computer.
- With our initial machines we achieved a step size of 12.5 micron, enabling a layer thickness of 100 micron. We have printed several items at 100 micron to prove this capability. For the production machine we will have a step size of 3.125 micron, enabling a theoretical 25 micron. Not thin enough? At the end of the campaign backers with a kit reward can opt to have 16 tooth pulleys instead of the standard 20 tooth pulleys, to go to a step size of 2.5 micron and 20 micron layers!
- There are several (Open Source) options in terms of software. At the moment we are using Repetier on the PC, a modified version of Marlin as the firmware on the RAMPS electronics, and the standard Arduino IDE for tweaking the firmware.
- A heated bed with mirror glass print surface, allows for PLA and ABS to be used as filament.
- In terms of filament, the DeltaTrix 3D Printer is designed to accept 1.75mm PLA and ABS on a variety of 1kg reels, as long as it is of good quality. We have tested the cheapest possible materials, from a number of sources, to expose our machine to worst-case conditions.
- Igus linear slides with pretension are used, providing a robust and durable bearing solution from a highly reputable, German manufacturer. The strengthening ribs on the uprights keep the rails straight and sturdy.
- The current design print head assembly uses a single Reprappro Hot End, with a nozzle size of 0.3 or 0.5mm. The assembly also has a fan and integrated duct for cooling the top of a print.
- Quick changeover print head assembly. Useful for swapping between two print head assemblies, eg. one with a 0.3mm nozzle for high detail prints and one with a 0.5mm nozzle for faster prints. The prototypes use connection blocks, but the kit will have proper connectors. Please, note: the standard kit only contains parts for one off print head assembly.
Note: The video below demonstrates how to do a quick change over of the print head. Since making the video, we replaced the steel rods + rubber bands with carbon rods + springs (see above). The procedure is now even easier and faster to perform!
As panel material for the prototypes we used (floorboard quality) plywood from our local DIY shop, which we machined on our own 3 axis CNC machine. For the Sets and Kits on offer as rewards, we will be providing panels from a well established UK timber merchant. Using their professional grade CNC machines, they will supply us with fully machined panels.
The panel material on our printer is Valchromat, resulting in a machine weighing around 15.5 kilograms. The Black Edition Sets and Kits will have panels in black Valchromat. We feel this choice of material will result in a very solid machine, with great aesthetic properties.
- Tracker Reward: This reward will allow you to keep track of our progress. As this is the only reward without physical shipment, it is also the most environmentally friendly contribution!
- Personalized Key Fob: The Key Fob is the ideal sample from our DeltaTrix 3D Printer. It features the thinnest recommended layer thickness of 100 micron, in conjunction with a high level of accuracy. 3D printing is all about customisation, and the Key Fob demonstrates this by having your own initials on one side.
- Black Edition Panel Sets: The Panel Sets are great for tinkerers who would like to build a customized version of the DeltaTrix 3D Printer, but who do not have (affordable) access to a large CNC machine. You might already have all the electronics, or you prefer a particular model hot end, or maybe you want to design your own chocolate extruder...
- Reprap upgrade kit: If you already own an existing Reprap printer or similar, you can complete a DeltaTrix by re-using your existing stepper motors, hot end, electronics, power supply unit, bed and extruder. Contact us for special requests and we will be glad to accomodate your requirements!
- Lucky 7 Kits: The Lucky 7 Kits are essentially the same as the Comprehensive Kits (see below), but at a lower price and in limited quantities.
- Comprehensive Kits: Available with panels in Black Valchromat, Comprehensive kits come with all the parts to assemble a DeltaTrix 3D Printer. Check the FAQs below to see what tools are required for completing a build.
- Comprehensive Kits + three day workshops: We will organize a few workshops to take place in Newport, South Wales (UK). During the first two days the focus will be on the physical assembly of your own printer. The third day will be used to set your printer up, to install software on your own laptop/PC, and to go through the steps needed to make prints. The actual dates will be arranged after the Kickstarter campaign finishes, but will typically take place during the normal working week. If required, we can assist in arranging overnight stay in a bed & breakfast or hotel.
If you are interested in a set or kit, be sure to check out the existing Instructable for the DeltaTrix 3D Printer. This will give you an idea about the work involved in assembling a kit. Please note, the currently published (V0.11) version corresponds to the two initial prototypes. The sets and kits on offer as rewards will have a small number of differences, which will be published in due course. The main differences are:
- The LCD surround and reel holder are to be re-designed as plastic parts. On the current V0.11 design, these parts are in plywood.
- The top and bottom horizontal panels have already been re-designed to be identical to each other, in order to simplify the production process.
- The published design is based on T2.5 timing belts and pulleys. The production version will be based on GT2 belts and pulleys.
The DeltaTrix 3D Printer Kits will initially consist out of a set of CNC machined panels, a set of 3D printed, plastic parts, and all the remaining bits as off the shelf components. In order to get you started, the Comprehensive Kits will also include a small amount of filament.
With increased volumes our margins will improve. The stretch goals have been designed to use the margins, in order to improve our product offering during the Kickstarter campaign and after:
- £10k Goal: This is not a stretch goal, but the starting point for the project to take place. At this level, we will be able to produce a batch of Panel Sets and Comprehensive Kits, and break even.
- £100k Stretch Goal: Colours for everyone! All Black Edition panel sets and Black Edition Comprehensive Kits will turn into Colour Editions, with a choice in panel colours: red, orange, yellow, blue, or black. The Personalized Key Fob Reward will be available in a choice of colours: white, black, red, or blue. All pledge levels, including the Tracker Reward, will receive a digital rendering in colour.
- £125k Stretch Goal: Injection Moulding Upgrade #1. The LCD surround and the control knob will be injection moulded instead of 3D printed. We believe the standard of our 3D printed parts is outstanding (see Sample Prints below). However, moulded parts can have a superior surface finish and require less preparation. Not only the Comprehensive Kits, but also the Panel Sets will include these parts.
- £150k Stretch Goal: Injection Moulding Upgrade #2. The spool holder parts will be injection moulded instead of 3D printed. Again, not only the Comprehensive Kits, but also the Panel Sets will include these parts.
- £175k Stretch Goal: Injection Moulding Upgrade #3. The switch spacers, motor brackets, and top pulley brackets will be injection moulded instead of 3D printed. And yes, not only the Comprehensive Kits, but also the Panel Sets will include these parts.
- £200k Stretch Goal: Filament! Instead of a small amount of filament to start you off, every Comprehensive Kit will now receive a 1kg spool of high quality filament in ABS or PLA. All Panel Sets will now come with a small sample of our filament.
There are a few improvements and upgrades possible. Listed here are a few things we are planning to work on, and also some potential improvements users can perform on their own initiative. We would like to stress that there is no guarantee for any to become reality:
- Automatic levelling by means of an optical sensor and a mirror glass build surface. We already fitted and wired sensors to our prototype machines, but have not yet set up the software side of things. All comprehensive kits will include a sensor and a mirror glass build surface, so they will be ready for a future upgrade.
- The print head design includes an integrated fan duct, which works as intended. With the print head being a very important part of the machine, this is an area for potential improvements. Any improvements we will come up with, will be made available on the basis of Open Source principles. In case of improved 3D printed parts, these will be made available as downloadable files for printing on your own printer.
- There is the potential for installing a second extruder and a dual print head. We already designed a dual print head assembly, but this has no provision for cooling the top of a print. We aim to provide a design in the future, for a dual print head assembly with a nice (Open Source) solution for active cooling of the top layers.
- All of the sides have a defined opening, ready to accept a door panel for closing them off. As the print head can go beyond the door opening, any potential door panel would need to accommodate this.
- On top of the printer there is space for something. A netbook will easily fit, or the filament reel could be placed on top in conjunction with moving the extruder. A very interesting (and ambitious!) prospect would be to use the space for including a 3D scanner...
- The currently used heated build platform is based on the proven 'MK2A' PCB, with a size of 200x200mm square. There is the opportunity to replace this with a round print bed of 280mm diameter. We will only offer this as a potential upgrade, after the Kickstarter campaign, and after extensive testing confirms reliable and consistent performance.
- Before developing a round print bed, we are investigating an improved shape for the MK2A solution. We are aiming to show this off before the Kickstarter campaign finishes, and include it with the kits.
Our printer is fully Open Source and any of our upgrades to it will also be Open Source. Feel free to upload your own improvements on Open Source principles, for the benefit of other users!
VAT, Duty and Shipping
Provided we are successful enough, we will need to become VAT registered. In this case, all UK (United Kingdom) and EU (European Union) rewards will need to include 20% VAT (UK based Value Added Tax). The pledge levels for UK and EU Set and Kit rewards already take account for this.
Rewards to the USA, Canada, Mexico, and the Rest Of The World are without VAT. However, we will send all shipments on Incoterms DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid). This means we will take care of delivering your reward to you, but you will be liable for paying potential duty and customs clearing expenses.
Shipping charges can very complicated. As an example, our shipping quotation from DHL divides up worldwide destinations in no less than ten regions! We have spent a lot of effort in defining upfront shipping charges for our rewards, which are easy enough to apply and at the same time are as fair as possible. Still, if you have any specific questions regarding this, please ask!
To be complete, here are the values we will declare to our courier for the different rewards:
- For customs purposes, Key Fobs will be valued at £10 and marked as 'sample'. At this level, there should not be any import duty payable for international delivery. The fobs will be sent by Royal mail.
- The Panel Sets will have a declared value of £115 before VAT.
- The Lucky 7 Kits will have a declared value of £500 before VAT.
- The Comprehensive Kits will have a declared value of £560 before VAT.
The Peoples behind DeltaTrix
The way our project will take place will depend on the success of the Kickstarter campaign. In case of very low interest we would print all the necessary plastic components on our existing prototype machines. As soon as the campaign pledges increase, we would first need to assemble more printers in order to print all the parts for the Kit Rewards. At a higher pledge total we plan to have certain plastic components made for us in injection moulded form (see Stretch Goals).
Without going into details too much, here are the key phases for our timeline:
- Finalise production version 3D printed parts and start printing these parts for the manufacture of our own 3D printer battery, needed for printing kit parts in volume. Already started, to continue during the KS campaign.
- Anticipate which stretch goals will be reached and finalise designs for the appropriate injection moulded parts. This will start January, after finalising a deal on 3D design software. Our old copy of AutoCAD has been ok so far, but to finalise the design for injection moulded parts we will need access to higher end modelling software. This will most likely be SolidWorks or Solid Edge, as we have contacts and experience in both.
- Our supplier for injection moulded parts is geared up for fast turn around, mid-volume (up to 10000 parts...) production. Once we supply them with our 3D models and place an order, they will have parts ready within 15 days.
- Receive funds from Kickstarter by the end of January/ beginning of February.
- Upon receiving funds, we will first place orders for all items with a long lead time. These will primarily be all items we need to get from China: electronics (RAMPS + Atmel boards), rod end bearings, ball bearings, PTFE tubing, IR photoelectric switches, stepper motors, timing pulleys, timing belts. The majority of items should arrive within four weeks of ordering.
- Place orders for UK suppliers by the end of February, with the longest lead-time items being ordered first. These are mainly the hot ends and the CNC machined panels.
- As soon as we know how many kits we need to produce, we will be able to work out how large our 3D printer battery needs to be. As this will form the most crucial aspect of our project timeline, the main focus is on this part of the plan.
- By assembling the printers for our 3d printing battery, we will effectively be able to assemble the production version of our kits for the first time. This will be the moment to compile the Build Instructions for the kits, whilst being able to detect any problems and issues in time to rectify them. To take place during the end of February and the beginning of March.
Risks and challenges
Our team is experienced in managing complex projects to tight timelines and within budget. Richard Tegelbeckers, the main driving force behind the project, has been involved in many high profile projects. Amongst these are large scale machine building projects in the steel and manufacturing industry, involving complex planning, strict deadlines, little room for error, and high stakes. Richard's dictionary does not contain the word 'stress' and he is the kind of guy who eats problems for breakfast!
There are a few potential issues, which could have an adverse effect on our timeline. These include, but are not limited to the following:
The most crucial stage of the project is to get a 3D printer battery up and running in time to produce all the 3D printed parts for the kits. Depending on the way the KS campaign progresses, we will already order up any crucial items for the battery from faster (=more expensive) sources. If we are really in need for this, we can also call upon the help of a few local 3D printer owners to help with printing the necessary parts for the battery.
We rely on an external company to supply us with hot end kits. We received a verbal quote for the supply, but we will need to confirm actual timelines after we have established the actual numbers we require. As the hot end design is Open Source, there is always the option to take on the production of the hot ends ourselves. In actual terms this would lead to using our contacts, for having components machined in external machine shops. We have no reason to believe the original hot end manufacturer cannot fulfil our future order, but it is always good to have a plan B!
Whatever happens in terms of kit volumes required, we can call upon a flexible workforce to help us in getting all the work done. This workforce consists mainly out of peoples we already know, eliminating the potential problems arising with hiring complete strangers for temporary work.
International shipping is very complicated. We already did put a lot of effort in working out any potential issues beforehand and we have been in close contact with our local DHL depot from an early stage.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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