Thursday, November 24, 2011

metal Makerbot spool holder

A common issue with the Makerbot 3D printer is setting up something to hold the spool of plastic as it is being fed into the machine. I decided to cut a spool stand out of metal using a CNC plasma cutter that I have access to.

The spool is about 8 inches across, with a 2 inch hole in the middle (I know, metric measurements are preferable, but the plasma cutter workflow is easier in inches). I wanted something quick and easy that would hold the spool vertically, so I came up with this:

I drew it in Inkscape for cutting out of flat sheet of 1/8th inch steel, exported the drawing using Better DXF Output for SheetCam to turn it  into g-code for the CNC plasma cutter. I'm currently looking into PyCAM, heekscnc, and PartKAM as free alternatives to SheetCam, but that's another post.

After cutting it out, I bent it on a brake to an angle of about 135 degrees (about 3π/4 radians) and cleaned up the edges using a bench grinder. In hindsight it would have been easier to do those steps in the opposite order, but I guess that's part of the learning process.

And here's the (mostly) finished product. I still need to add a piece of plastic or slippery tape where the spool rests on the metal in order to allow it to spin more freely.

If I build another version of this, I'll round the corners a little more and cut some sort of design into the base.