When we are talking about 3D Tooling Technology, as of today 3D Printer is cheaper than ever. The improvement of 3D Printers drastically changed industries around the global. Consumer 3D Printing also reaches another level as 3D Printers in the market are becoming more friendly and compact.
Consumer FDM/FFF 3D Printer starting from Reprap community which was introduced by Adrian Bowyer.
The first design implementation is an Up-Down mechanical build platform which moves the platform along the Z-axis (Reprap v1) and the second design (Reprap v2) uses Bed Slinger (Y-Axis bed movement). The other mechanical design is the Delta 3D Printer with no movement of the bed platform.
Those styles of 3D Printers have already been in the market for several years. The Build Platform or usually we call it Bed platform is one of the important parts to make sure that the 3D Printing process runs smoothly and produces good printed things.
Here are some pros and cons regarding the mechanical move design of the Bed Platform in 3D Printer:
1.Cartesian XY Head and Z bed movement
This design is the basic mechanical model for many 3D Printers first available in the market. Popular 3D Printers brands like Makerbot, Ultimaker, or the latest Core-XY Printers are using this mechanical system in their machines.
- Built Print model mass only moves along Z and this makes lighter-weight printed head is moving XY. Thus faster printing speeds are possible.
- Construction is easy to enclose in most models due to the cubic frame. So the printer mostly can handle multiple materials compared to an open frame. Filaments like ABS, ASA, PA-Nylon, and PC Filament are usually used for this printer model.
- Maintenance and modification are somehow difficult for this design type.
- Z-axis only movement will significantly reduce the ghosting problem effect on the surface. The surface problem that can occur is Z-banding.
- This model costs more due to material use for a fully cubic frame.
- Manual adjustment of the bed platform is a bit tedious since accessing the back side of the printer is not easy.
- The heated bed draws electricity about 70% from the printer's power supply. So the heater bed power cable is usually thick and has limited bend character. In this situation, less bending movement of the cable is better to avoid damage.
2. Cartesian XZ Head, Y bed movement (Bed-Slinger)
This design model is divided into two sub-styles which are standard prusa-mendel style with 2 z-axis and cantilever style with only single z-axis. Since Prusa came out of this model, cheap consumer 3D printers have rapidly growth among hobbyists and home users.
- This style of 3D printer is easy and cheap to build, modify, and maintain operation. For example, the SUNLU T3 3D Printer has a lot of features at a very affordable price.
- Visually good and understandable kinematics view so it’s easy to inspect the 3D printing process. But due to bed movement, time-lapse recording is very bad.
- Frame is compact, lighter, and easy to move here and there but it compromises the sturdy and rigid design. Yes, it will impact the quality of print if not assembled properly.
- Print quality is theoretically inferior with the same speeds and accelerations as heavy print bed leading to ghosting problem)
- z-wobble problem is also more likely to occur as a bed comes with a heavily printed model also moving along the y-axis.
- Very big build-plates are not advisable for this design. The biggest in the market is 500x500mm with a lot of problems due to the heavy bed and printed model moving front and back.
- Heated bed power cable is also another problem. The cable has to be firmly locked into the moving bed and secured since it always moving during the print process.
- The design of the frame is 99% open and the only way to enclose it is to put the printer inside a big box bigger than the printer's dimension. Since it is an open-frame design - material prints are limited to PLA, PETG, and TPU. The material also must be of good quality like Sunlu Filament since the print and bed temp is not consistent due to surrounding ambient temp.
3.Delta Style XYZ Head, No Bed Movement
A very different approach to Head movement is using Delta Style kinematic for 3D Printer.
- Build size is Unlimited but shapes reduce to circle. Because the
- There is no movement at all for the printed model means speed print can be maxed out.
- Mechanical delta consists of tri-point up-down rod z-axis movement connecting to the affector of the printer head resides. As a result, there are no z-banding and z-wobble problems.
- The only thing that makes concern about this printer is the load on the CPU processing due to more complicated kinematics (32-bit CPU needed for fast print speeds and responsive control)
- error-cause for this printer is not easy so troubleshooting needs more time to solve.
- Accuracy is in the center better than other types and printing circle model can be achieved perfectly.
- Since there is no movement from the bed at all - heavy material like ceramic or even liquid cement can be 3D Printed.
There is another unusual design which is Polar Style X Head, Rotation Bed Movement. This 3D Printer is not popular and only produced by Polar3D in 2015. The unique design of this printer is the bed movement which rotates circularly along with motor rotation. Why is not effective? As we know, the limitations in motor stepper degree and this printer build size are very limited. Although the circular motion is less movement it still can create a problem like Z-banding since only a single z axis is used. A heated bed is also difficult to implement as the cable will twisted along the center rod axis.
Besides that four styles of bed-robotic technology also can be implemented in 3D printing. That means the bed can be anywhere and any size within a range of robotic arms or no fixed bed at all. Of course, this application of 3D Printing is not for consumer use.
Different bed movements affect 3D Printing quality but in practical 3D Printing, smooth 3D printed results can be done even only using a simple cheap structure Cartesian bed slinger with a single Z-axis. Using Good Print Settings, electrical sensors, and advanced firmware can be used to improve the quality of 3D-printed models.