innRDrive™ - Scalable, Modular Linear Motion System
innRDrive™ - Scalable, Modular Linear Motion System
Elegant, Low Cost, Modular Linear Motion Kit for CNC machines of all sorts - gantry or delta. 3D printers, Camera Slides...
Elegant, Low Cost, Modular Linear Motion Kit for CNC machines of all sorts - gantry or delta. 3D printers, Camera Slides... Read more
About this project
2/18/2012 Major Design Breakthrough!
All of the things you loved and none of the things you didn't!
Now works with Misumi, 8020 and McMaster-Carr (and probably others)!
Can be used with MXL, GT belts or any other 1/4" or 6mm belt!
The Scalable, Modular Linear Motion System
New 4 wheel carriage plate and drive clamp system demo running about 45 inches/sec.
Original carriage design speed test for comparision below.
With this project, I don't want much, just a small revolution in the construction of Maker-built linear motion based machines - whether they are traditional XY gantry systems or the cooler delta machines like the Rostock 3D printer. I want to provide a compact, modular, self contained linear motion system to make building such machines easier and more repeatable.
To make this product a practical reality, I need the support of backers like you to get the volume needed to professionally manufacture the key components for a reasonable price. That's where you guys come in!
But first a little background...
If you want to cut to the chase, skip to "Announcing the innRDrive™ Modular Linear Motion System" Heading in bold below; otherwise please bear with me as I relate to you
The Story of My Big Idea
Roughly five years ago I drew this picture on my kid's chalkboard.
I had no idea how to build it. All I knew was that I wanted to take advantage of the channels in a standard aluminum extrusion to hide and protect the drive belt for a linear motion axis. I also wanted the unit to be modular and make motor mounting easier. I thought it was just a matter of having some plates machined. I didn't really do much to pursue making it at the time, but every time I went by that chalkboard in the basement I looked at the drawing and thought about how much I liked the idea.
Over the ensuing years I bought and learned to use Alibre 3D CAD. Last year I bought a Makerbot Replicator 3D printer. These 2 things changed everything. Now, not only could I design something I had thought of, but I could also print it. I could hold it in my hands, test it out and then refine the idea.
It took a couple months to learn some of the quirks of 3D printing in general and the Replicator in particular. During that time I designed and built various little things to solve problems for myself or friends and family. I even used it solve a long standing safety related problem at work.
Now I was really starting to see the power of these kinds of tools- not just to create solutions to relatively simple problems, but to create things that I probably couldn't have built any other way. I even bought a Full Spectrum 40W laser cutter to expand my prototyping capabilities.
Finally, I decided to use my CAD, 3D printing and laser cutting skills to see if I could actually bring it that chalkboard concept to life.
The Big Idea - From Chalkboard to Reality
Now, after nearly 3 months of designing, building, redesigning and rebuilding, I am happy to announce that I have succeeded!
Announcing the innRDrive™ Modular Linear Motion System
If you have ever built any kind of linear motion based machine - whether a CNC Mill or a maybe a 3D Printer - unless you had deep pockets, you were often forced to get many of your materials from, say, a hardware store or even the lumber yard! You might have been lucky enough to have some crudely printed parts made by a friend with a home built 3D printer. When you were done the machine might have worked, but let's face it, it often looked more like junkyard art than a precision machine. It was also probably a little fragile and subject to "coming apart at the seams" at higher speeds. Finally, such home-brew systems are often not very easy to assemble or modify.
With the innRDrive™ modular linear motion system you can now create a more robust, more professional looking machine with your hobbyist's pocket book.
Through a combination of off-the-shelf aluminum extrusions and mounting hardware, custom machined Delrin mounting brackets and a unique Delrin "bearing" cage assembly, the innRDrive™ system finally provides what I think is a more elegant, cost effective solution to a Maker's linear motion needs.
With the latest design, bearing cage assembly tolerance can be adjusted using the nylon lock nuts. By carefully tightening the lock nuts, the opening that rides on the 20mm extrusion can be reduced in height AND width by approximately 0.050" to provide a more precise but freer moving fit.
At the heart of the bearing cage is a drive clamp that allows a timing belt to be attached to the clamp while being kept inside the aluminum extrusion channel!
Many have combined aluminum extrusions with timing belts before, but until now they tended to use awkward external attachments between the ends of the timing belt and the drive head - leaving the belt exposed over much of its length. With the innRDrive™ system the belt is protected throughout its length. The only points where the belt is outside the extrusion channels are at the drive pulley end and the follower pulley end - but even then the belt is still protected below the surface of the extrusion.
Another unique feature is the end-plate design. Using aluminum extrusion pieces mounted on each end allows an axis to be fully self contained and ready to mount. This also means that when you cut your own center extrusion, you don't have to worry about being too precise, because these ends can be moved in or out to get the exact overall length you need.
The Delrin cage assembly also has a top (and bottom) plate that allows the end of another 20mm extrusion to be mounted directly to it.
This means, for example, that the X and Y axis in a gantry style system can be mounted in the same plane simply by attaching the end of one axis to the cage assembly top plate of the other, allowing for a more compact machine with fewer axis to axis mounting components.
Yet another feature is scalability. The length of the axis can be changed by using a different length of central extrusion and timing belt.
I am sure there is an upper limit to the length of the axis but it should be beyond what most Makers would be trying to do.
NOTE: Since the length of an axis is the decision of the Maker, based on what they are trying to build, the central extrusion is not supplied in these kits.
Assembly time to build a complete axis (after you have cut the timing belt and central extrusion to length) is less than 30 minutes!
Here is an example of the Basic Axis Kit with all the precision machined components and mounting hardware. Individual part designs subject to change as product is improved.
And here is an example of a Full Axis Kit. The Full Axis Kit has all the parts of the Basic Axis Kit, plus an MXL timing pulley, a length of MXL timing belt, and a NEMA 17 stepper motor. Individual part designs subject to change as product is improved.
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Imagine what you could build if all the problems of building a linear axis were solved for you! Light to medium duty milling machines, 3D printers, Camera Slides, Pick-n-Place machines, Laser Cutters, Automated curtains...
Don't miss out, pledge now!
If this product appeals to the Maker market, then some of the proceeds will be used for prototyping to scale this up to work with NEMA 23 motors and correspondingly larger extrusions and timing belts.
Risks and challenges
Having solved the technical problems (2/18/2013) that once restricted this design to a single extrusion manufacturer and belt type, the only foreseeable risk I can think of now is a delay at the machine shop or a limitation in part availability for some of the off the shelf parts.
I have found a local machine shop with an Omax 80X Waterjet to precision machine the components. They will also cut and tap the extrusion end stubs. They do high volume work for other local companies and were recommended to me for their quality and willingness to work with their customers. They are currently running 6 days a week, 3 shifts to fulfill current orders so getting scheduled in there could be a bit tricky if that keeps up. Good news is the water jet makes quick work of things once the path is dialed in and the material is fixtured.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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